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Mol Gen Genet. 1997 Feb 27;253(6):770-6.

The heterocyst-specific fdxH gene product of the cyanobacterium Anabaena sp. PCC 7120 is important but not essential for nitrogen fixation.

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  • 1Botanisches Institut der Universität Bonn, Germany.


To clarify the role of the heterocyst-specific [2Fe-2S] ferredoxin in cyanobacterial nitrogen fixation, mutational analysis of the Anabaena 7120 fdxH gene region was carried out. First, the DNA sequence of the wild-type 3509-bp EcoRI fragment downstream of the fdxH gene was determined. Genes homologous to ORF3 from the fdxH gene regions of A. variabilis and Plectonema boryanum, the mop genes of Clostridium pasteurianum encoding molybdo-pterin binding proteins, and ORF3 from the A. variabilis hydrogenase gene cluster were identified within the sequenced region. For mutational analysis the Anabaena 7120 mutant strains LAK4, BMB92, and KSH10 were constructed. In LAK4 the fdxH coding region is disrupted by an interposon, whereas BMB92 is deleted for a 2799-bp NheI fragment encompassing fdxH, ORF3, mop, ORF4, and ORF5. Mutant strain KSH10 is a derivative of BMB92, complemented for fdxH but not for the other genes located further downstream. Analysis of the Nif phenotype of these mutant strains showed that FdxH is necessary for maximum nitrogenase activity and optimal growth under nitrogen-fixing conditions, but not absolutely essential for diazotrophic growth. The role of alternative electron donors for nitrogenase, which might substitute for FdxH, is discussed. Iron concentrations (1 microM Fe) sufficient to induce synthesis of the vegetative cell flavodoxin did not stimulate diazotrophic growth of the fdxH mutant strains, suggesting that FdxH was not replaced by a NifJ-flavodoxin system. Comparison of LAK4 and BMB92 indicated that one of the genes located downstream of fdxH might also play a (minor) role in nitrogen fixation.

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