The aconitase of Sulfolobus solfataricus, a hyperthermophilic crenarchaeon, was cloned and heterologously expressed in Escherichia coli. Enzymic analyses and EPR measurements indicated clearly that the iron-sulphur cluster of the thermophilic aconitase was already inserted in the mesophilic host. The enzyme was purified to a specific activity of approx.44 units/mg and to 90% homogeneity. The enzymic parameters of the recombinant aconitase turned out to be in the same range as the respective values for the previously characterized native enzyme from the closely related S. acidocaldarius. Based on its primary sequence, the recombinant aconitase is closely related to bacterial A-like and to eukaryotic iron regulatory protein-like proteins. Specific aconitase activities in cytosolic extracts of S. acidocaldarius were found to be decreased markedly in iron-starved compared with iron-repleted cells. However, no differences in aconitase levels between iron-starved and iron-supplemented cells could be detected by immunostaining.

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