Mitochondria are the major site of cellular iron utilization for the synthesis of essential cofactors such as iron–sulfur clusters and haem. In the present study, we provide evidence that GTP in the mitochondrial matrix is involved in organellar iron homoeostasis. A mutant of yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae lacking the mitochondrial GTP/GDP carrier protein (Ggc1p) exhibits decreased levels of matrix GTP and increased levels of matrix GDP [Vozza, Blanco, Palmieri and Palmieri (2004) J. Biol. Chem. 279, 20850–20857]. This mutant (previously called yhm1) also manifests high cellular iron uptake and tremendous iron accumulation within mitochondria [Lesuisse, Lyver, Knight and Dancis (2004) Biochem. J. 378, 599–607]. The reason for these two very different phenotypic defects of the same yeast mutant has so far remained elusive. We show that in vivo targeting of a human nucleoside diphosphate kinase (Nm23-H4), which converts ATP into GTP, to the matrix of ggc1 mutants restores normal iron regulation. Thus the role of Ggc1p in iron metabolism is mediated by effects on GTP/GDP levels in the mitochondrial matrix.

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