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Mol Gen Genet. 1989 Apr;216(2-3):293-302.

The Rhizobium meliloti fdxN gene encoding a ferredoxin-like protein is necessary for nitrogen fixation and is cotranscribed with nifA and nifB.

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Lehrstuhl für Genetik, Fakultät für Biologie, Universität Bielefeld, Federal Republic of Germany.


Sequencing of the Rhizobium meliloti DNA region downstream of nifA revealed the existence of nifB, fdxN and ORF3. The molecular weight of the fdxN protein (Mr 6830) and the distribution of cysteine residues in its deduced amino acid sequence is typical for low molecular weight bacterial ferredoxins. Interposon insertion and plasmid integration mutagenesis demonstrated that FdxN is essential for nitrogen fixation in R. meliloti, whereas the predicted translation product of ORF3 (Mr 8708) is not necessary for this process. In contrast, ferredoxin-like proteins, which are encoded by nifB-associated genes, are not required for nitrogen fixation in all other organisms analysed so far. Plasmid integration mutagenesis additionally revealed that nifA, nifB and fdxN form one transcriptional unit. This result was confirmed by complementation analysis of polar interposon insertion mutants of nifA, nifB and fdxN and by complementation of a non-polar nifA deletion mutant. A DNA sequence resembling a typical nif consensus promoter, which is preceded by two putative NifA-binding sites, is located in front of nifB. This nifB promoter can be activated in Escherichia coli by the nifA gene product of Klebsiella pneumoniae to the same level as that of the R. meliloti nifH promoter. In contrast, R. meliloti NifA stimulates the nifH promoter more efficiently than the nifB promoter. This low-level activation of the nifB promoter may be the reason why transcription of nifB and fdxN is initiated primarily at a promoter in front of nifA.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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