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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. Aug 1988; 85(16): 5794–5798.
PMCID: PMC281851

Primary structure of cotranscribed genes encoding the Rieske Fe-S and cytochrome f proteins of the cyanobacterium Nostoc PCC 7906.

Abstract

The thylakoid membrane cytochrome b6-f complex (plastoquinol:oxidized-plastocyanin oxidoreductase, EC 1.10.99.1) catalyzes electron-transfer and proton-translocation reactions essential for oxygenic photosynthesis. We have isolated and determined the nucleotide sequences of the petC and petA genes encoding the Rieske Fe-S and cytochrome f polypeptides from the filamentous cyanobacterium Nostoc PCC 7906. These genes occur as single genomic copies, are tightly linked, and, as indicated by hybridization of gene-specific probes to Nostoc RNA, are cotranscribed as a 2.0-kilobase message. The Rieske Fe-S/cytochrome f gene pair thus represents an example of clustering and cotranscription in cyanobacteria of functionally related genes that, in photosynthetic eukaryotes, reside on separate nuclear and plastid genomes. These data are consistent with the progressive degeneration of the modern chloroplast genome from the ancestral, cyanobacterial-like genome of an endosymbiont. The Rieske Fe-S and the mature cytochrome f apoproteins are encoded by 537 and 867 nucleotides and have molecular masses of 19.2 and 31.2 kDa, respectively. They show 59% and 60% protein sequence identity, respectively, relative to spinach. Forty-four amino acids (4.7 kDa) resembling a prokaryotic signal sequence precede apocytochrome f. In contrast, the Rieske Fe-S protein appears to be translated without a presequence. The 183 bases separating the Rieske Fe-S and preapocytochrome f genes contain two families of 7- to 9-base tandem repeats, and some part of this sequence is highly reiterated in the genome. The C terminus of the Rieske Fe-S protein contains cysteine and histidine residues (probable ligands for the Fe2S2 center) in two peptides, Cys-Thr-His-Leu-Gly-Cys-Val and Cys-Pro-Cys-His-Gly-Ser, which have been conserved in spinach and in the five available Rieske Fe-S sequences from the mitochondrial-type cytochrome b-c1 complexes. Cytochrome f shows the heme binding residues Cys-Xaa-Xaa-Cys-His near its N terminus. Single, long hydrophobic stretches occur near the N and C termini, respectively, of the Rieske Fe-S and cytochrome f proteins and may form membrane-spanning helices.

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