Biochemistry, Department of


Date of this Version



PNAS | June 3, 2014 | vol. 111 | no. 22 | 8031–8036


This article is a U.S. government work, and is not subject to copyright in the United States.


Although cells express hundreds of metalloenzymes, the mechanisms by which apoenzymes receive their metal cofactors are largely unknown. Poly(rC)-binding proteins PCBP1 and PCBP2 are multifunctional adaptor proteins that bind iron and deliver it to ferritin for storage or to prolyl and asparagyl hydroxylases to metallate the mononuclear iron center. Here, we show that PCBP1 and PCBP2 also deliver iron to deoxyhypusine hydroxylase (DOHH), the dinuclear iron enzyme required for hypusine modification of the translation factor eukaryotic initiation factor 5A. Cells depleted of PCBP1 or PCBP2 exhibited loss of DOHH activity and loss of the holo form of the enzyme in cells, particularly when cells were made mildly iron-deficient. Lysates containing PCBP1 and PCBP2 converted apo-DOHH to holo-DOHH in vitro with greater efficiency than lysates lacking PCBP1 or PCBP2. PCBP1 bound to DOHH in iron-treated cells but not in control or iron-deficient cells. Depletion of PCBP1 or PCBP2 had no effect on the cytosolic Fe-S cluster enzyme xanthine oxidase but led to loss of cytosolic aconitase activity. Loss of aconitase activity was not accompanied by gain of RNAbinding activity, a pattern suggesting the incomplete disassembly of the [4Fe-4S] cluster. PCBP depletions had minimal effects on total cellular iron, mitochondrial iron levels, and heme synthesis. Thus, PCBP1 and PCBP2 may serve as iron chaperones to multiple classes of cytosolic nonheme iron enzymes and may have a particular role in restoring metal cofactors that are spontaneously lost in iron deficient cells.