Thiosemicarbazones (TSC) and their metal complexes display diverse biological activities and are active against multiple pathological conditions ranging from microbial infections to abnormal cell proliferation. Ribonucleotide reductase (RNR) is considered one of the main targets of TSCs, yet, the existence of additional targets, differently responsible for the multifaceted activities of TSCs and their metal complexes has been proposed. To set the basis for a more comprehensive delineation of their mode of action, we chemogenomically profiled the cellular effects of bis(citronellalthiosemicarbazonato)nickel(II) [Ni(S-tcitr)2] using the unicellular eukaryote Saccharomyces cerevisiae as a model organism. Two complementary genomic phenotyping screens led to the identification of 269 sensitive and 56 tolerant deletion mutant strains and of 14 genes that when overexpressed make yeast cells resistant to an otherwise lethal concentration of Ni(S-tcitr)2. Chromatin remodeling, cytoskeleton organization, mitochondrial function and iron metabolism were identified as lead cellular processes responsible for Ni(S-tcitr)2 toxicity. The latter process, and particularly glutaredoxin-mediated iron loading of RNR, was found to be affected by Ni(S-tcitr)2. Given the multiple pathways regulated by glutaredoxins, targeting of these proteins by Ni(S-tcitr)2 can negatively affect various core cellular processes that may critically contribute to Ni(S-tcitr)2 cytotoxicity.
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