An iron-sulfur cluster plays a novel regulatory role in the iron-responsive element binding protein

Tracey A. Rouault, David J. Haile, William E. Downey, Caroline C. Philpott, Careen Tang, Felipe Samaniego, Jean Chin, Ian Paul, David Orloff, Joe B. Harford, Richard D. Klausner

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

74 Scopus citations


Post-transcriptional regulation of genes important in iron metabolism, ferritin and the transferrin receptor (TfR), is achieved through regulated binding of a cytosolic protein, the iron-responsive element binding protein (IRE-BP), to RNA stem-loop motifs known as iron-responsive elements (IREs). Binding of the IRE-BP respresses ferritin translation and represses degradation of the TfR mRNA. The IRE-BP senses iron levels and accordingly modifies binding to IREs through a novel sensing mechanism. An iron-sulfur cluster of the IRE-BP reversibly binds iron; when cytosolic iron levels are depleted, the cluster becomes depleted of iron and the IRE-BP acquires the capacity to bind IREs. When cytosolic iron levels are replete, the IRE-BP loses RNA binding capacity, but acquires enzymatic activity as a functional aconitase. RNA binding and aconitase activity are mutually exclusive activities of the IRE-BP, and the state of the iron-sulfur cluster determines how the IRE-BP will function.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)131-140
Number of pages10
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1992
Externally publishedYes


  • RNA binding
  • aconitase
  • ferritin
  • iron-responsive element binding protein
  • iron-responsive elements
  • iron-sulfur clusters

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomaterials
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Metals and Alloys


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