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FEBS Lett. 1998 May 8;427(2):291-5.

A role for the signal transduction protein PII in the control of nitrate/nitrite uptake in a cyanobacterium.

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Département de Biochimie et Génétique Moléculaire, Unité de Physiologie Microbienne, Paris, France.


In the cyanobacterium Synechococcus sp. strain PCC 7942, ammonium exerts a rapid and reversible inhibition of the nitrate and nitrite uptake, and the PII protein (GlnB) is differentially phosphorylated depending on the intracellular N/C balance. RNA/DNA hybridizations, as well as nitrate and nitrite uptake experiments, were carried out with the wild-type strain and a PII-null mutant. The transcriptional control by ammonium of the expression of the nir-nrt ABCD-narB operon remained operative in the mutant but, in contrast to the wild-type strain, the mutant took up nitrate and nitrite even in the presence of ammonium. Moreover, the wild-type phenotype was restored by insertion of a copy of the wild-type glnB gene in the genome of the PII-null mutant. These results indicate that the unphosphorylated form of PII is involved in the short-term inhibition by ammonium of the nitrate and nitrite uptake in Synechococcus sp. strain PCC 7942.

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