Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology

, Volume 91, Issue 1, pp 47–61 | Cite as

Bacterial cysteine desulfurases: versatile key players in biosynthetic pathways of sulfur-containing biofactors

  • Ryota Hidese
  • Hisaaki Mihara
  • Nobuyoshi EsakiEmail author


Cysteine desulfurases are pyridoxal 5′-phosphate-dependent homodimeric enzymes that catalyze the conversion of L-cysteine to L-alanine and sulfane sulfur via the formation of a protein-bound cysteine persulfide intermediate on a conserved cysteine residue. The enzymes are capable of donating the persulfide sulfur atoms to a variety of biosynthetic pathways for sulfur-containing biofactors, such as iron–sulfur clusters, thiamin, transfer RNA thionucleosides, biotin, and lipoic acid. The enormous advances in biochemical and structural studies of these biosynthetic pathways over the past decades provide an opportunity for detailed understanding of the nature of the excellent sulfur transfer mechanism of cysteine desulfurases.


Cysteine desulfurase Sulfur transfer Sulfur-containing biofactors Biosynthetic pathways A persulfide intermediate 


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© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Chemical ResearchKyoto UniversityUjiJapan
  2. 2.Department of Biotechnology, Institute of Science and Engineering, College of Life SciencesRitsumeikan UniversityKusatsuJapan

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