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Mol Gen Genet. 1993 Jan;236(2-3):193-202.

Identification and characterization of a gene cluster involved in nitrate transport in the cyanobacterium Synechococcus sp. PCC7942.

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Solar Energy Research Group, Institute of Physical and Chemical Research, Saitama, Japan.


The nrtA gene, which has been proposed to be involved in nitrate transport of Synechococcus sp. PCC7942 (Anacystis nidulans R2), was mapped at 3.9 kb upstream of the nitrate reductase gene, narB. Three closely linked genes (designated nrtB, nrtC, and nrtD), which encode proteins of 279, 659, and 274 amino acids, respectively, were found between the nrtA and narB genes. NrtB is a hydrophobic protein having structural similarity to the integral membrane components of bacterial transport systems that are dependent on periplasmic substrate-binding proteins. The N-terminal portion of NrtC (amino acid residues 1-254) and NrtD are 58% identical to each other in their amino acid sequences, and resemble the ATP-binding components of binding protein-dependent transport systems. The C-terminal portion of NrtC is 30% identical to NrtA. Mutants constructed by interrupting each of nrtB and nrtC were unable to grow on nitrate, and the nrtD mutant required high concentration of nitrate for growth. The rate of nitrate-dependent O2 evolution (photosynthetic O2 evolution coupled to nitrate reduction) in wild-type cells measured in the presence of L-methionine D,L-sulfoximine and glycolaldehyde showed a dual-phase relationship with nitrate concentration. It followed saturation kinetics up to 10 mM nitrate (the concentration required for half-saturation = 1 microM), and the reaction rate then increased above the saturation level of the first phase as the nitrate concentration increased. The high-affinity phase of nitrate-dependent O2 evolution was absent in the nrtD mutant. The results suggest that there are two independent mechanisms of nitrate uptake and that the nrtB-nrtC-nrtD cluster encodes a high-affinity nitrate transport system.

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