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J Bacteriol. 1977 Mar;129(3):1545-55.

Formation of glutamine from [13n]ammonia, [13n]dinitrogen, and [14C]glutamate by heterocysts isolated from Anabaena cylindrica.


A method is described for the isolation of metabolically active heterocysts from Anabaena cylindrica. These isolated heterocysts accounted for up to 34% of the acetylene-reducing activity of whole filaments and had a specific activity of up to 1,560 nmol of C2H4 formed per mg of heterocyst chlorphyll per min. Activity of glutamine synthetase was coupled to activity of nitrogenase in isolated heterocysts as shown by acetylene-inhibitable formation of [13N]NH3 and of amidelabeled [13N]glutamine form [13N]N2. A method is also described for the production of 6-mCi amounts of [13N]NH3. Isolated heterocysts formed [13N]glutamine from [13N]NH3 and glutamate, and [14C]glutamine from NH3 and [14C]glutamate, in the presence of magnesium adenosine 5'-triphosphate. Methionine sulfoximine strongly inhibited these syntheses. Glutamate synthase is, after nitrogenase and glutamine synthetase, the third sequential enzyme involved in the assimilation of N2 by intact filaments. However, the kinetics of solubilization of the activity of glutamate synthase during cavitation of suspensions of A. cylindrica indicated that very little, if any, of the activity of that enzyme was located in heterocysts. Concordantly, isolated heterocysts failed to form substantial amounts of radioactive glutamate from either [13N]glutamine or alph-[14C]ketoglutarate in the presence of other substrates and cofactors of the glutamate synthase reaction. However, they formed [14C]glutamate rapidly from alpha-[14C]ketoglutarate by aminotransferase reactions, with various amino acids as the nitrogen donor. The implication of these findings with regard to the identities of the substances moving between heterocysts and vegetative cells are discussed.

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