Aconitase/3-isopropylmalate dehydratase large subunit, alpha/beta/alpha domain (IPR001030)

Short name: Acoase/IPM_deHydtase_lsu_aba

Domain relationships


Aconitase (aconitate hydratase; EC: is an iron-sulphur protein that contains a [4Fe-4S]-cluster and catalyses the interconversion of isocitrate and citrate via a cis-aconitate intermediate. Aconitase functions in both the TCA and glyoxylate cycles, however unlike the majority of iron-sulphur proteins that function as electron carriers, the [4Fe-4S]-cluster of aconitase reacts directly with an enzyme substrate. In eukaryotes there is a cytosolic form (cAcn) and a mitochondrial form (mAcn) of the enzyme. In bacteria there are also 2 forms, aconitase A (AcnA) and B (AcnB). Several aconitases are known to be multi-functional enzymes with a second non-catalytic, but essential function that arises when the cellular environment changes, such as when iron levels drop [PMID: 10087914, PMID: 15877277]. Eukaryotic cAcn and mAcn, and bacterial AcnA have the same domain organisation, consisting of three N-terminal alpha/beta/alpha domains, a linker region, followed by a C-terminal 'swivel' domain with a beta/beta/alpha structure (1-2-3-linker-4), although mAcn is small than cAcn. However, bacterial AcnB has a different organisation: it contains an N-terminal HEAT-like domain, followed by the 'swivel' domain, then the three alpha/beta/alpha domains (HEAT-4-1-2-3) [PMID: 9020582]. Below is a description of some of the multi-functional activities associated with different aconitases.

  • Eukaryotic mAcn catalyses the second step of the mitochondrial TCA cycle, which is important for energy production, providing high energy electrons in the form of NADH and FADH2 to the mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation pathway [PMID: 15543948]. The TCA cycle also provides precursors for haem and amino acid production. This enzyme has a second, non-catalytic but essential role in mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) maintenance: mAcn acts to stabilise mtDNA, forming part of mtDNA protein-DNA complexes known as nucleoids. mAcn is thought to reversibly model nucleoids to directly influence mitochondrial gene expression in response to changes in the cellular environment. Therefore, mAcn can influence the expression of components of the oxidative phosphorylation pathway encoded in mtDNA.

  • Eukaryotic cAcn enzyme balances the amount of citrate and isocitrate in the cytoplasm, which in turn creates a balance between the amount of NADPH generated from isocitrate by isocitrate dehydrogenase with the amount of acetyl-CoA generated from citrate by citrate lyase. Fatty acid synthesis requires both NADPH and acetyl-CoA, as do other metabolic processes, including the need for NADPH to combat oxidative stress. The enzymatic form of cAcn predominates when iron levels are normal, but if they drop sufficiently to cause the disassembly of the [4Fe-4S]-cluster, then cAcn undergoes a conformational change from a compact enzyme to a more open L-shaped protein known as iron regulatory protein 1 (IRP1; or IRE-binding protein 1, IREBP1) [PMID: 17185597, PMID: 16407072]. As IRP1, the catalytic site and the [4Fe-4S]-cluster are lost, and two new RNA-binding sites appear. IRP1 functions in the post-transcriptional regulation of genes involved in iron metabolism - it binds to mRNA iron-responsive elements (IRE), 30-nucleotide stem-loop structures at the 3' or 5' end of specific transcripts. Transcripts containing an IRE include ferritin L and H subunits (iron storage), transferrin (iron plasma chaperone), transferrin receptor (iron uptake into cells), ferroportin (iron exporter), mAcn, succinate dehydrogenase, erythroid aminolevulinic acid synthetase (tetrapyrrole biosynthesis), among others. If the IRE is in the 5'-UTR of the transcript (e.g. in ferritin mRNA), then IRP1-binding prevents its translation by blocking the transcript from binding to the ribosome. If the IRE is in the 3'-UTR of the transcript (e.g. transferrin receptor), then IRP1-binding protects it from endonuclease degradation, thereby prolonging the half-life of the transcript and enabling it to be translated [PMID: 15604397].

  • IRP2 is another IRE-binding protein that binds to the same transcripts as IRP1. However, since IRP1 is predominantly in the enzymatic cAcn form, it is IRP2 that acts as the major metabolic regulator that maintains iron homeostasis [PMID: 16850017]. Although IRP2 is homologous to IRP1, IRP2 lacks aconitase activity, and is known only to have a single function in the post-transcriptional regulation of iron metabolism genes [PMID: 17513696]. In iron-replete cells, IRP2 activity is regulated primarily by iron-dependent degradation through the ubiquitin-proteasomal system.

  • Bacterial AcnB is also known to be multi-functional. In addition to its role in the TCA cycle, AcnB was shown to be a post-transcriptional regulator of gene expression in Escherichia coli and Salmonella enterica [PMID: 15882410, PMID: 15009904]. In S. enterica, AcnB initiates a regulatory cascade controlling flagella biosynthesis through an interaction with the ftsH transcript, an alternative RNA polymerase sigma factor. This binding lowers the intracellular concentration of FtsH protease, which in turn enhances the amount of RNA polymerase sigma32 factor (normally degraded by FtsH protease), and sigma32 then increases the synthesis of chaperone DnaK, which in turn promotes the synthesis of the flagellar protein FliC. AcnB regulates the synthesis of other proteins as well, such as superoxide dismutase (SodA) and other enzymes involved in oxidative stress.

3-isopropylmalate dehydratase (or isopropylmalate isomerase; EC: catalyses the stereo-specific isomerisation of 2-isopropylmalate and 3-isopropylmalate, via the formation of 2-isopropylmaleate. This enzyme performs the second step in the biosynthesis of leucine, and is present in most prokaryotes and many fungal species. The prokaryotic enzyme is a heterodimer composed of a large (LeuC) and small (LeuD) subunit, while the fungal form is a monomeric enzyme. Both forms of isopropylmalate are related and are part of the larger aconitase family [PMID: 9020582]. Aconitases are mostly monomeric proteins which share four domains in common and contain a single, labile [4Fe-4S] cluster. Three structural domains (1, 2 and 3) are tightly packed around the iron-sulphur cluster, while a fourth domain (4) forms a deep active-site cleft. The prokaryotic enzyme is encoded by two adjacent genes, leuC and leuD, corresponding to aconitase domains 1-3 and 4 respectively [PMID: 1400210, PMID: 9813279]. LeuC does not bind an iron-sulphur cluster. It is thought that some prokaryotic isopropylamalate dehydrogenases can also function as homoaconitase EC:, converting cis-homoaconitate to homoisocitric acid in lysine biosynthesis [PMID: 15522288]. Homoaconitase has been identified in higher fungi (mitochondria) and several archaea and one thermophilic species of bacteria, Thermus thermophilus [PMID: 16524361]. It is also found in the higher plant Arabidopsis thaliana, where it is targeted to the chloroplast [PMID: 20663849].

This entry represents a region containing 3 domains, each with a 3-layer alpha/beta/alpha topology. This region represents the [4Fe-4S] cluster-binding region found at the N-terminal of eukaryotic mAcn, cAcn/IPR1 and IRP2, and bacterial AcnA, but in the C-terminal of bacterial AcnB. This domain is also found in the large subunit of isopropylmalate dehydratase (LeuC).

GO terms

Biological Process

GO:0008152 metabolic process

Molecular Function

No terms assigned in this category.

Cellular Component

No terms assigned in this category.

Contributing signatures

Signatures from InterPro member databases are used to construct an entry.