Thomé R, Gust A, Toci R, Mendel R, Bittner F, Magalon A, Walburger A.
l-Cysteine desulfurases provide sulfur to several metabolic pathways in the form of persulfides on specific cysteine residues of an acceptor protein for the eventual incorporation of sulfur into an end product. IscS is one of the three Escherichia coli l-cysteine desulfurases. It interacts with FdhD, a protein essential for the activity of formate dehydrogenases (FDHs), which are iron/molybdenum/selenium-containing enzymes. Here, we address the role played by this interaction in the activity of FDH-H (FdhF) in E. coli. The interaction of IscS with FdhD results in a sulfur transfer between IscS and FdhD in the form of persulfides. Substitution of the strictly conserved residue Cys-121 of FdhD impairs both sulfur transfer from IscS to FdhD and FdhF activity. Furthermore, inactive FdhF produced in the absence of FdhD contains both metal centers, albeit the molybdenum cofactor is at a reduced level. Finally, FdhF activity is sulfur-dependent, as it shows reversible sensitivity to cyanide treatment. Conclusively, FdhD is a sulfurtransferase between IscS and FdhF and is thereby essential to yield FDH activity.