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J Bacteriol. 1987 Dec;169(12):5393-400.

Rhizobium meliloti nifN (fixF) gene is part of an operon regulated by a nifA-dependent promoter and codes for a polypeptide homologous to the nifK gene product.

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


An essential gene for symbiotic nitrogen fixation (fixF) is located near the common nodulation region of Rhizobium meliloti. A DNA fragment carrying fixF was characterized by hybridization with Klebsiella pneumoniae nif DNA and by nucleotide sequence analysis. The fixF gene was found to be related to K. pneumoniae nifN and was therefore renamed as the R. meliloti nifN gene. Upstream of the nifN coding region a second open reading frame was identified coding for a putative polypeptide of 110 amino acids (ORF110). By fragment-specific Tn5 mutagenesis it was shown that the nifN gene and ORF110 form an operon. The control region of this operon contains a nif promoter and also the putative nifA-binding sequence. For the deduced amino acid sequence of the nifN gene product a striking homology to the R. meliloti nifK protein was found. One cysteine residue and its adjacent amino acid sequence, which are highly conserved in the R. meliloti nifK, R. meliloti nifN, and K. pneumoniae nifN proteins, may play a role in binding the FeMo cofactor.

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