American Chemical Society
Central Ohio Valley Section
Dr. Patricia C. Dos Santos
Wake Forest University
"Cross-talk in Metal Homeostasis:
Involvement of Zinc in Fe-S Cluster Biogenesis in Bacillus subtilis"
The biosynthesis of Fe-S clusters in Bacillus subtilis and other Gram-positive bacteria is catalyzed by the SufCDSUB system. The first step in this pathway involves the sulfur mobilization from the free amino acid cysteine to a sulfur acceptor protein SufU via a PLP-dependent cysteine desulfurase SufS. Kinetic analysis combined with spectroscopic methods identified that the presence of a zinc atom tightly bound to SufU (Ka=1017 M-1) is crucial for its structural and catalytic competency. Fe-S cluster assembly experiments showed that despite the high degree of sequence and structural similarity to the ortholog enzyme IscU, the B. subtilis SufU does not act as a standard Fe-S cluster scaffold protein. Structural and functional analysis are being conducted to identify evolutionary determinants that dictate chemical reactivities and specific physiological functions within members of this group of enzymes. The involvement of SufU as a dedicated sulfur intermediate in the biogenesis of Fe-S clusters in Gram-positive microbes indicates distinct strategies used by bacterial systems to assemble Fe-S clusters. The zinc-dependent sulfurtransferase activity of SufU indicates a new role for this metal in biology.
Dr. Patricia Dos Santos received her B.S. in Pharmacy and Biochemistry form the Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul in 1999. She earned her Ph. D. from Virginia Tech in 2004. She was a Postdoctoral Research Associate at Virginia Tech from 2005-2008. She joined the faculty at Wake Forest University in 2008 as an Assistant Professor and was promoted to Associate Professor in 2014. She has published 36 papers in peer reviewed journals and has contributed chapters for 6 books.
Her research involves studying the biochemical formation of [Fe-S] clusters in Gram-positive bacteria. The importance of Fe-S clusters is intimately associated with the essential role of Fe-S proteins in a wide range of life sustaining processes including respiration, carbon metabolism, photosynthesis and nitrogen fixation.
Click here to see a copy of her Curriculum Vitae.
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