Iron-sulfur (Fe-S) clusters (ISCs) are ubiquitous cofactors essential to numerous fundamental cellular processes. Assembly of ISCs and their insertion into apoproteins involves the function of complex cellular machineries that operate in parallel in the mitochondrial and cytosolic/nuclear compartments of mammalian cells. The spectrum of diseases caused by inherited defects in genes that encode the Fe-S assembly proteins has recently expanded to include multiple rare human diseases, which manifest distinctive combinations and severities of global and tissue-specific impairments. In this review, the authors provide an overview of our understanding of ISC biogenesis in mammalian cells, discuss recent work that has shed light on the molecular interactions that govern ISC assembly, and focus on human diseases caused by failures of the biogenesis pathway.
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