, Volume 158, Issue 5, pp 335-343

Genes for a second terminal oxidase in Bradyrhizobium japonicum

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Abstract

Bradyrhizobium japonicum possesses a mitochondria-like respiratory chain terminating with an aa 3-type cytochrome c oxidase. The gene for subunit I of this enzyme (coxA) had been identified and cloned previously via heterologous hybridization using a Paracoccus denitrificans DNA probe. In the course of these studies, another B. japonicum DNA region was discovered which apparently encoded a second terminal oxidase that was different from cytochrome aa 3 but also belonged to the superfamily of heme/copper oxidases. Nucleotide sequence analysis revealed a cluster of at least four genes, coxMNOP, organized most probably in an operon. The predicted coxM gene product shared significant similarity with subunit II of cytochrome c oxidases from other organisms: in particular, all of the proposed CuA ligands were conserved as well as three of the four acidic amino acid residues that might be involved in the binding of cytochrome c. The coxN gene encoded a polypeptide with about 40% sequence identity with subunit I representatives including the previously found CoxA protein: the six presumed histidine ligands of the prosthetic groups (two hemes and CuB) were strictly conserved. A remarkable feature of the DNA seqence was the presence of two genes, coxO and coxP, whose products were both homologous to subunit III proteins. A B.japonicum coxN mutant strain was created by marker exchange mutagenesis which, however, exhibited no obvious defects in free-living, aerobic growth or in root nodule symbiosis with soybean. This shows that the coxMNOP genes are not essential for respiration in the N2 fixing bacteroid.