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J Bacteriol. 2003 Jan;185(1):71-9.

Function of oxygen resistance proteins in the anaerobic, sulfate-reducing bacterium Desulfovibrio vulgaris hildenborough.

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  • 1Department of Biological Sciences. Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Calgary, 2500 University Drive NW, Calgary, Alberta T2N 1N4, Canada.


Two mutant strains of Desulfovibrio vulgaris Hildenborough lacking either the sod gene for periplasmic superoxide dismutase or the rbr gene for rubrerythrin, a cytoplasmic hydrogen peroxide (H(2)O(2)) reductase, were constructed. Their resistance to oxidative stress was compared to that of the wild-type and of a sor mutant lacking the gene for the cytoplasmic superoxide reductase. The sor mutant was more sensitive to exposure to air or to internally or externally generated superoxide than was the sod mutant, which was in turn more sensitive than the wild-type strain. No obvious oxidative stress phenotype was found for the rbr mutant, indicating that H(2)O(2) resistance may also be conferred by two other rbr genes in the D. vulgaris genome. Inhibition of Sod activity by azide and H(2)O(2), but not by cyanide, indicated it to be an iron-containing Sod. The positions of Fe-Sod and Sor were mapped by two-dimensional gel electrophoresis (2DE). A strong decrease of Sor in continuously aerated cells, indicated by 2DE, may be a critical factor in causing cell death of D. vulgaris. Thus, Sor plays a key role in oxygen defense of D. vulgaris under fully aerobic conditions, when superoxide is generated mostly in the cytoplasm. Fe-Sod may be more important under microaerophilic conditions, when the periplasm contains oxygen-sensitive, superoxide-producing targets.

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