Cysteine desulfurase is regulated by phosphorylation of Nfs1 in yeast mitochondria

Agostinho G. Rocha, Simon A.B. Knight, Alok Pandey, Heeyong Yoon, Jayashree Pain, Debkumar Pain, Andrew Dancis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


The cysteine desulfurase Nfs1/Isd11 uses the amino acid cysteine as the substrate and its activity is absolutely required for contributing persulfide sulfur to the essential process of iron-sulfur (Fe–S) cluster assembly in mitochondria. Here we describe a novel regulatory process involving phosphorylation of Nfs1 in mitochondria. Phosphorylation enhanced cysteine desulfurase activity, while dephosphorylation decreased its activity. Nfs1 phosphopeptides were identified, and the corresponding phosphosite mutants showed impaired persulfide formation. Nfs1 pull down from mitochondria recovered an associated kinase activity, and Yck2, a kinase present in the pull down, was able to phosphorylate Nfs1 in vitro and stimulate cysteine desulfurase activity. Yck2 exhibited an eclipsed distribution in the mitochondrial matrix, although other cellular localizations have been previously described. Mitochondria lacking the Yck2 protein kinase (∆ yck2) showed less phosphorylating activity for Nfs1. Compared with wild-type mitochondria, ∆yck2 mitochondria revealed slower persulfide formation on Nfs1 consistent with a role of Yck2 in regulating mitochondrial cysteine desulfurase activity. We propose that Nfs1 phosphorylation may provide a means of rapid adaptation to increased metabolic demand for sulfur and Fe–S clusters within mitochondria.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)29-41
Number of pages13
StatePublished - May 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


  • Iron–sulfur
  • Kinase
  • Mitochondria
  • Persulfide
  • Phosphorylation


Dive into the research topics of 'Cysteine desulfurase is regulated by phosphorylation of Nfs1 in yeast mitochondria'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this