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J Bacteriol. 2002 Jun;184(11):2987-93.

Nitric oxide metabolism in Neisseria meningitidis.

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Department of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, University of Sheffield, Western Bank, Sheffield S10 2TN.


Neisseria meningitidis, the causative agent of meningococcal disease in humans, is likely to be exposed to nitrosative stress during natural colonization and disease. The genome of N. meningitidis includes the genes aniA and norB, predicted to encode nitrite reductase and nitric oxide (NO) reductase, respectively. These gene products should allow the bacterium to denitrify nitrite to nitrous oxide. We show that N. meningitidis can support growth microaerobically by the denitrification of nitrite via NO and that norB is required for anaerobic growth with nitrite. NorB and, to a lesser extent, the cycP gene product cytochrome c' are able to counteract toxicity due to exogenously added NO. Expression of these genes by N. meningitidis during colonization and disease may confer protection against exogenous or endogenous nitrosative stress.

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