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J Mol Microbiol Biotechnol. 2009;17(1):20-9. doi: 10.1159/000159195. Epub 2008 Sep 29.

A genomic view on nitrogen metabolism and nitrogen control in mycobacteria.

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Lehrstuhl fur Mikrobiologie, Friedrich-Alexander-Universitat Erlangen-Nurnberg, Erlangen, Deutschland.


Knowledge about nitrogen metabolism and control in the genus Mycobacterium is sparse, especially compared to the state of knowledge in related actinomycetes like Streptomyces coelicolor or the close relative Corynebacterium glutamicum. Therefore, we screened the published genome sequences of Mycobacterium smegmatis, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, Mycobacterium bovis, Mycobacterium avium ssp. paratuberculosis and Mycobacterium leprae for genes encoding proteins for uptake of nitrogen sources, nitrogen assimilation and nitrogen control systems, resulting in a detailed comparative genomic analysis of nitrogen metabolism-related genes for all completely sequenced members of the genus. Transporters for ammonium, nitrate, and urea could be identified, as well as enzymes crucial for assimilation of these nitrogen sources, i.e. glutamine synthetase, glutamate dehydrogenase, glutamate synthase, nitrate reductase, nitrite reductase, and urease proteins. A reduction of genes encoding proteins for nitrogen transport and metabolism was observed for the pathogenic mycobacteria, especially for M. leprae. Signal transduction components identified for the different species include adenylyl- and uridylyltransferase and a P(II)-type signal transduction protein. Exclusively for M. smegmatis, two homologs of putative nitrogen regulatory proteins were found, namely GlnR and AmtR, while in other mycobacteria, AmtR was absent and GlnR seems to be the nitrogen transcription regulator protein.

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