Mitochondrial iron trafficking and the integration of iron metabolism between the mitochondrion and cytosol

Des R. Richardson, Darius J.R. Lane, Erika M. Becker, Michael L.H. Huang, Megan Whitnall, Yohan Suryo Rahmanto, Alex D. Sheftel, Prem Ponka

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

310 Scopus citations


The mitochondrion is well known for its key role in energy transduction. However, it is less well appreciated that it is also a focal point of iron metabolism. Iron is needed not only for heme and iron sulfur cluster (ISC)-containing proteins involved in electron transport and oxidative phosphorylation, but also for a wide variety of cytoplasmic and nuclear functions, including DNA synthesis. The mitochondrial pathways involved in the generation of both heme and ISCs have been characterized to some extent. However, little is known concerning the regulation of iron uptake by the mitochondrion and how this is coordinated with iron metabolism in the cytosol and other organelles (e.g., lysosomes). In this article, we discuss the burgeoning field of mitochondrial iron metabolism and trafficking that has recently been stimulated by the discovery of proteins involved in mitochondrial iron storage (mitochondrial ferritin) and transport (mitoferrin-1 and -2). In addition, recent work examining mitochondrial diseases (e.g., Friedreich's ataxia) has established that communication exists between iron metabolism in the mitochondrion and the cytosol. This finding has revealed the ability of the mitochondrion to modulate whole-cell ironprocessing to satisfy its own requirements for the crucial processes of heme and ISC synthesis. Knowledge of mitochondrial ironprocessing pathways and the interaction between organelles and the cytosol could revolutionize the investigation of iron metabolism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)10775-10782
Number of pages8
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number24
StatePublished - Jun 15 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Frataxin
  • Friedreich's ataxia
  • Heme
  • Iron sulfur cluster
  • Sideroblastic anemia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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