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Biochemistry. 1993 Mar 2;32(8):2013-23.

Site-directed mutagenesis of conserved cysteine residues within the beta subunit of Escherichia coli nitrate reductase. Physiological, biochemical, and EPR characterization of the mutated enzymes.

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Laboratoire de Chimie Bactérienne, CNRS, Marseille, France.


We have used site-directed mutagenesis to alter the ligands to the iron-sulfur centers of Escherichia coli nitrate reductase A. The beta subunit of this enzyme contains four Cys groups which are thought to accommodate the single [3Fe-4S] center and the three [4Fe-4S] centers involved in the electron-transfer process from quinol to nitrate. The third Cys group (group III) contains a Trp at a site occupied by a Cys residue in typical ferredoxin arrangements or in the DmsB subunit of dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) reductase. In an attempt to determine the coordination site of the different iron-sulfur centers in the amino acid sequence, we have changed the Trp of group III to Cys, Ala, Phe, and Tyr and the first Cys residue of groups II-IV to Ala and Ser. Physiological, biochemical, and EPR studies were performed on the mutated enzymes. Substitution of Ala for either Cys184, Cys217, or Cys244 results in the full loss of all four iron-sulfur centers present in the wild-type enzyme. These inactive enzymes still possess the alpha,beta, and gamma polypeptides associated in a membrane-bound complex. These Cys have important structural roles and are very likely involved in the coordination of the iron-sulfur centers. Substitution of Cys184 with a Ser residue produces an enzyme containing the four iron-sulfur centers, but displaying reduced activity. EPR studies suggest that Cys184 is a ligand of the [4Fe-4S] center whose midpoint potential is -200 mV in the native enzyme. All substitutions performed in this study on Trp220 lead to mutant enzymes harboring the four iron-sulfur centers and a nitrate reductase activity close to that of the wild-type. In spite of the high similarity between the NarH and DmsB subunits, the Trp220-->Cys substitution does not allow the conversion of the [3Fe-4S] center of the nitrate reductase into a [4Fe-4S] center. Therefore, Trp220 does not seem to play any major role in the beta subunit.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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