The first and the rate-limiting enzyme of heme biosynthesis is δ-aminolevulinate synthase (ALAS), which is localized in mitochondria. There are 2 tissue-specific isoforms of ALAS, erythroid-specific (ALAS-E) and nonspecific ALAS (ALAS-N). To identify possible mitochondrial factors that modulate ALAS-E function, we screened a human bone marrow cDNA library, using the mitochondrial form of human ALAS-E as a bait protein in the yeast 2-hybrid system. Our screening led to the isolation of the β subunit of human ATP-specific succinyl CoA synthetase (SCS-βA). Using transient expression and coimmunoprecipitation, we verified that mitochodrially expressed SCS-βA associates specifically with ALAS-E and not with ALAS-N. Furthermore, the ALAS-E mutants R411C and M426V associated with SCS-βA, but the D190V mutant did not. Because the D190V mutant was identified in a patient with pyridoxine-refractory X-linked sideroblastic anemia, our findings suggest that appropriate association of SCS-βA and ALAS-E promotes efficient use of succinyl CoA by ALAS-E or helps translocate ALAS-E into mitochondria.


Kazumichi Furuyama, Shigeru Sassa


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