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J Bacteriol. 1998 Sep;180(18):4790-8.

Mutational inactivation of a gene homologous to Escherichia coli ptsP affects poly-beta-hydroxybutyrate accumulation and nitrogen fixation in Azotobacter vinelandii.

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  • 1Departamento de Microbiología Molecular, Instituto de Biotecnología, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Cuernavaca, Morelos, México.


Strain DS988, an Azotobacter vinelandii mutant with a reduced capacity to accumulate poly-beta-hydroxybutyrate, was isolated after mini-Tn5 mutagenesis of the UW136 strain. Cloning and nucleotide sequencing of the affected locus revealed a gene homologous to Escherichia coli ptsP which encodes enzyme INtr, a homologue of enzyme I of the phosphoenol pyruvate-sugar phosphotransferase system with an N-terminal domain similar to the N-terminal domain of some NifA proteins. Strain DS988 was unable to grow diazotrophically with 10 mM glucose as a carbon source. Diazotrophic growth on alternative carbon sources such as gluconate was only slightly affected. Glucose uptake, as well as glucose kinase and glucose-6-phosphate-dehydrogenase activities that lead to the synthesis of gluconate-6-phosphate, were not affected by the ptsP mutation. The inability of DS988 to grow diazotrophically in 10 mM glucose was overcome by supplying ammonium or other sources of fixed nitrogen. Acetylene reduction activity but not transcription of the nitrogenase structural gene nifH was shown to be impaired in strain DS988 when it was incubated in 10 mM glucose. The diazotrophic growth defect of DS988 was restored either by increasing the glucose concentration to above 20 mM or by lowering the oxygen concentration. These data suggest that a mutation in ptsP leads to a failure in poly-beta-hydroxybutyrate metabolism and in the respiratory protection of nitrogenase under carbon-limiting conditions.

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