Structure-function analysis of NEET proteins uncovers their role as key regulators of iron and ROS homeostasis in health and disease

Sagi Tamir, Mark L. Paddock, Merav Darash-Yahana-Baram, Sarah H. Holt, Yang Sung Sohn, Lily Agranat, Dorit Michaeli, Jason T. Stofleth, Colin H. Lipper, Faruck Morcos, Ioav Z. Cabantchik, Jose' N. Onuchic, Patricia A. Jennings, Ron Mittler, Rachel Nechushtai*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

128 Scopus citations


A novel family of 2Fe-2S proteins, the NEET family, was discovered during the last decade in numerous organisms, including archea, bacteria, algae, plant and human; suggesting an evolutionary-conserved function, potentially mediated by their CDGSH Iron-Sulfur Domain. In human, three NEET members encoded by the CISD1-3 genes were identified. The structures of CISD1 (mitoNEET, mNT), CISD2 (NAF-1), and the plant At-NEET uncovered a homodimer with a unique "NEET fold", as well as two distinct domains: a beta-cap and a 2Fe-2S cluster-binding domain. The 2Fe-2S clusters of NEET proteins were found to be coordinated by a novel 3Cys:1His structure that is relatively labile compared to other 2Fe-2S proteins and is the reason of the NEETs' clusters could be transferred to apo-acceptor protein(s) or mitochondria. Positioned at the protein surface, the NEET's 2Fe-2S's coordinating His is exposed to protonation upon changes in its environment, potentially suggesting a sensing function for this residue. Studies in different model systems demonstrated a role for NAF-1 and mNT in the regulation of cellular iron, calcium and ROS homeostasis, and uncovered a key role for NEET proteins in critical processes, such as cancer cell proliferation and tumor growth, lipid and glucose homeostasis in obesity and diabetes, control of autophagy, longevity in mice, and senescence in plants. Abnormal regulation of NEET proteins was consequently found to result in multiple health conditions, and aberrant splicing of NAF-1 was found to be a causative of the neurological genetic disorder Wolfram Syndrome 2. Here we review the discovery of NEET proteins, their structural, biochemical and biophysical characterization, and their most recent structure-function analyses. We additionally highlight future avenues of research focused on NEET proteins and propose an essential role for NEETs in health and disease. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: Fe/S proteins: Analysis, structure, function, biogenesis and diseases.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1294-1315
Number of pages22
JournalBiochimica et Biophysica Acta - Molecular Cell Research
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2013 Elsevier B.V.


  • 2Fe-2S cluster
  • Cancer
  • Cluster donor/acceptor protein
  • Homeostasis
  • Mitochondria
  • Obesity and diabetes
  • Wolfram Syndrome 2


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