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The metabolically versatile purple bacterium Rhodobacter sphaeroides 2.4.3 is a denitrifier whose genome contains two periplasmic nitrate reductase-encoding gene clusters. This work demonstrates nonredundant physiological roles for these two enzymes. One cluster is expressed aerobically and repressed under low oxygen while the second is maximally expressed under low oxygen. Insertional inactivation of the aerobically expressed nitrate reductase eliminated aerobic nitrate reduction, but cells of this strain could still respire nitrate anaerobically. In contrast, when the anaerobic nitrate reductase was absent, aerobic nitrate reduction was detectable, but anaerobic nitrate reduction was impaired. The aerobic nitrate reductase was expressed but not utilized in liquid culture but was utilized during growth on solid medium. Growth on a variety of carbon sources, with the exception of malate, the most oxidized substrate used, resulted in nitrite production on solid medium. This is consistent with a role for the aerobic nitrate reductase in redox homeostasis. These results show that one of the nitrate reductases is specific for respiration and denitrification while the other likely plays a role in redox homeostasis during aerobic growth.


Angela Hartsock, James P Shapleigh. Physiological roles for two periplasmic nitrate reductases in Rhodobacter sphaeroides 2.4.3 (ATCC 17025). Journal of bacteriology. 2011 Dec;193(23):6483-9

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PMID: 21949073

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