Nqo15 is a subunit of respiratory complex I of the bacterium Thermus thermophilus, with strong structural similarity to human frataxin (FXN), a protein involved in the mitochondrial disease Friedreich's ataxia (FRDA). It has been recently shown that the expression of recombinant Nqo15 can ameliorate the respiratory phenotype of FRDA patients' cells, and this prompted to further characterize both the Nqo15 solution's behavior and its potential functional overlap with FXN, using a combination of in silico and in vitro techniques. The authors studied the analogy of Nqo15 and FXN by performing extensive database searches based on sequence and structure. Nqo15's folding and flexibility were investigated by combining nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR), circular dichroism, and coarse-grained molecular dynamics simulations. Nqo15's iron-binding properties were studied using NMR, fluorescence, and specific assays and its desulfurase activation by biochemical assays. The recombinant Nqo15 isolated from complex I is monomeric, stable, folded in solution, and highly dynamic. Nqo15 does not share the iron-binding properties of FXN or its desulfurase activation function.

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