Iron-sulfur (Fe-S) proteins are key players in vital processes involving energy homeostasis and metabolism from the simplest to most complex organisms. We report a 1.5 A x-ray crystal structure of the first identified outer mitochondrial membrane Fe-S protein, mitoNEET. Two protomers intertwine to form a unique dimeric structure that constitutes a new fold to not only the approximately 650 reported Fe-S protein structures but also to all known proteins. We name this motif the NEET fold. The protomers form a two-domain structure: a beta-cap domain and a cluster-binding domain that coordinates two acid-labile 2Fe-2S clusters. Binding of pioglitazone, an insulin-sensitizing thiazolidinedione used in the treatment of type 2 diabetes, stabilizes the protein against 2Fe-2S cluster release. The biophysical properties of mitoNEET suggest that it may participate in a redox-sensitive signaling and/or in Fe-S cluster transfer.
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