One-Pot De Novo Synthesis of [4Fe-4S] Proteins Using a Recombinant SUF System under Aerobic Conditions

Po Hsiang Wang, Shota Nishikawa, Shawn Erin McGlynn, Kosuke Fujishima

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Fe-S clusters are essential cofactors mediating electron transfer in respiratory and metabolic networks. However, obtaining active [4Fe-4S] proteins with heterologous expression is challenging due to (i) the requirements for [4Fe-4S] cluster assembly, (ii) the O2 lability of [4Fe-4S] clusters, and (iii) copurification of undesired proteins (e.g., ferredoxins). Here, we established a facile and efficient protocol to express mature [4Fe-4S] proteins in the PURE system under aerobic conditions. An enzyme aconitase and thermophilic ferredoxin were selected as model [4Fe-4S] proteins for functional verification. We first reconstituted the SUF system in vitro via a stepwise manner using the recombinant SUF subunits (SufABCDSE) individually purified from E. coli. Later, the incorporation of recombinant SUF helper proteins into the PURE system enabled mRNA translation-coupled [4Fe-4S] cluster assembly under the O2-depleted conditions. To overcome the O2 lability of [4Fe-4S] Fe-S clusters, an O2-scavenging enzyme cascade was incorporated, which begins with formate oxidation by formate dehydrogenase for NADH regeneration. Later, NADH is consumed by flavin reductase for FADH2 regeneration. Finally, bifunctional flavin reductase, along with catalase, removes O2 from the reaction while supplying FADH2 to the SufBC2D complex. These amendments enabled a one-pot, two-step synthesis of mature [4Fe-4S] proteins under aerobic conditions, yielding holo-aconitase with a maximum concentration of ∼0.15 mg/mL. This renovated system greatly expands the potential of the PURE system, paving the way for the future reconstruction of redox-active synthetic cells and enhanced cell-free biocatalysis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2887-2896
Number of pages10
JournalACS Synthetic Biology
Issue number10
StatePublished - 20 Oct 2023


  • Fe−S cluster
  • SUF helper protein
  • aconitase
  • cofactor regeneration
  • reconstituted cell-free protein synthesis
  • redox enzymes


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