Anaerobic regulation of nitrogen-fixation genes in Rhodopseudomonas capsulata

R. G. Kranz, R. Haselkorn

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A Rhodopseudomonas capsulata nifH::lacZ gene fusion was used to isolate constitutive mutants of R. capsulata, unable to repress nif gene transcription anaerobically with every fixed-nitrogen source tested. When these nif strains were grown aerobically, nif gene transcription was repressed. These results indicate that the regulation of nif gene transcription by fixed nitrogen is different from the regulation by oxygen. Under anaerobic conditions, nif gene transcription in both R. capsulata and Klebsiella pneumoniae is specifically prevented by inhibitors of DNA gyrase [DNA topoisomerase type II (ATP-hydrolyzing), EC]. A recent study has shown that anaerobically grown Salmonella typhimurium have high DNA gyrase activity, whereas aerobically grown cells have high DNA topoisomerase type I (EC activity and DNA that is more relaxed [Yamamoto, N. & Droffner, M.L. (1985) Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 82, 2077-2081]. In view of these results, we suggest that the control of nif gene transcription in response to oxygen is determined by the action of DNA gyrase and DNA topoisomerase I. Thus, although nitrogen control of nif gene expression requires the products of regulatory genes for which constitutive mutations can be isolated, oxygen appears instead to prevent the adoption of a DNA conformation necessary, directly or indirectly, for nif gene transcription.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6805-6809
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number18
StatePublished - 1986


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