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FEMS Microbiol Lett. 1997 Dec 15;157(2):313-8.

NifL of Klebsiella pneumoniae carries an N-terminally bound FAD cofactor, which is not directly required for the inhibitory function of NifL.

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Institut für Mikrobiologie und Genetik, Universität Göttingen, Germany.


In Klebsiella pneumoniae NifL antagonizes the action of the transcriptional activator NifA in the presence of molecular oxygen or combined nitrogen. To determine what cofactors might be involved in the oxygen sensing mechanism, we purified and analyzed fusion proteins made between the Escherichia coli maltose binding protein, MalE, and NifL. NifL synthesized and purified under strictly anaerobic conditions did not contain significant amounts of iron or acid-labile sulfur indicating the absence of an oxygen sensing iron-sulfur cluster. However, NifL protein purified in its inhibitory form contained 0.3 +/- 0.01 mol FAD and less than 0.01 mol FMN per mol NifL suggesting the presence of FAD as a cofactor. Characterization of NifL synthesized in the absence of oxygen and combined nitrogen showed that the non-inhibitory form of NifL also contained FAD (0.54 mol FAD per mol NifL). Using fusions between MalE and different portions of NifL we localized the binding site of FAD to the N-terminal domain of NifL. These results and our previous observation that the C-terminal domain of NifL is sufficient to inhibit NifA activity indicate that the N-terminally bound FAD is not directly required for the inhibitory activity of NifL. This observation is supported by the finding that purified apoprotein of NifL was still able to inhibit transcriptional activation by NifA in vitro.

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