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Biochemistry. 1996 May 21;35(20):6297-301.

A [2Fe-2S] protein encoded by an open reading frame upstream of the Escherichia coli bacterioferritin gene.

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Department of Chemistry, University of Georgia, Athens 30602, USA.


An open reading frame located upstream of the bacterioferritin gene in Escherichia coli encodes a hypothetical 64-residue protein [Andrews, S.C., Harrison, P.C., & Guest, J.R. (1989) J. Bacteriol. 171, 3940-3947)]. The spacing of the four cysteine residues in this hypothetical protein is identical to that in a region of NIFU, a [2Fe-2S] protein found in nitrogen-fixing bacteria [Fu, W., Jack, R.F., Morgan, T.V., Dean, D.R., & Johnson, M.K. (1994) Biochemistry 33, 13455-13463)]. The NIFU-like E. coli gene was cloned and overexpressed with a C-terminal "His tag" in E. coli using the T7 RNA polymerase/promoter system, and the protein was purified by metal-chelate affinity chromatography. UV-vis absorption and EPR spectra together with iron and amino acid analyses conclusively established that this NIFU-like E. coli protein contains one [2Fe-2S] cluster which can exist in at least two oxidation levels: +2 for the as-purified protein, and +1 for dithionite-reduced protein. Size-exclusion chromatography established that this His-tagged [2Fe-2S] protein is monomeric in solution. Affinity chromatography demonstrated specific complex formation between bacterioferritin (Bfr) and this NIFU-like [2Fe-2S] protein, which is dubbed Bfd. An open reading frame encoding a homologous Bfd is located near a Bfr gene in at least one other bacterium. Bfd may, therefore, constitute a general redox and/or regulatory component participating in the iron storage or mobilization functions of Bfr.

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