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NITRATE REDUCTASE STRUCTURE, FUNCTION AND REGULATION: Bridging the Gap between Biochemistry and Physiology.

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Department of Biological Sciences, Michigan Technological University, Phytotechnology Research Center Houghton, Michigan 49931-1295; e-mail:


Nitrate reductase (NR; EC catalyzes NAD(P)H reduction of nitrate to nitrite. NR serves plants, algae, and fungi as a central point for integration of metabolism by governing flux of reduced nitrogen by several regulatory mechanisms. The NR monomer is composed of a ~100-kD polypeptide and one each of FAD, heme-iron, and molybdenum-molybdopterin (Mo-MPT). NR has eight sequence segments: (a) N-terminal "acidic" region; (b) Mo-MPT domain with nitrate-reducing active site; (c) interface domain; (d) Hinge 1 containing serine phosphorylated in reversible activity regulation with inhibition by 14-3-3 binding protein; (e) cytochrome b domain; (f) Hinge 2; (g) FAD domain; and (h) NAD(P)H domain. The cytochrome b reductase fragment contains the active site where NAD(P)H transfers electrons to FAD. A complete three-dimensional dimeric NR structure model was built from structures of sulfite oxidase and cytochrome b reductase. Key active site residues have been investigated. NR structure, function, and regulation are now becoming understood.

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