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J Bacteriol. 1996 Aug;178(15):4367-74.

Dynamics of denitrification activity of Paracoccus denitrificans in continuous culture during aerobic-anaerobic changes.

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  • 1Swiss Federal Institute of Environmental Science and Technology, Dubendorf, Switzerland.


Induction and repression of denitrification activity were studied in a continuous culture of Paracoccus denitrificans during changes from aerobic to anaerobic growth conditions and vice versa. The denitrification activity of the cells was monitored by measuring the formation of denitrification products (nitrite, nitric oxide, nitrous oxide, and dinitrogen), individual mRNA levels for the nitrate, nitrite, and nitrous oxide reductases, and the concentration of the nitrite reductase enzyme with polyclonal antibodies against the cd1-type nitrite reductase. On a change from aerobic to anaerobic respiration, the culture entered an unstable transition phase during which the denitrification pathway became induced. The onset of this phase was formed by a 15- to 45-fold increase of the mRNA levels for the individual denitrification enzymes. All mRNAs accumulated during a short period, after which their overall concentration declined to reach a stable value slightly higher than that observed under aerobic steady-state conditions. Interestingly, the first mRNAs to be formed were those for nitrate and nitrous oxide reductase. The nitrite reductase mRNA appeared significantly later, suggesting different modes of regulation for the three genes. Unlike the mRNA levels, the level of the nitrite reductase protein increased slowly during the anaerobic period, reaching a stable value about 30 h after the switch. All denitrification intermediates could be observed transiently, but when the new anaerobic steady state was reached, dinitrogen was the main product. When the anaerobic cultures were switched back to aerobic respiration, denitrification of the cells stopped at once, although sufficient nitrite reductase was still present. We could observe that the mRNA levels for the individual denitrification enzymes decreased slightly to their aerobic, uninduced levels. The nitrite reductase protein was not actively degraded during the aerobic period.

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