The Electron Transfer Flavoprotein fixABCX Gene Products from Azospirillum brasilense Show a NifA-Dependent Promoter Regulation
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The complete nucleotide sequence of the A. brasilense fixA, fixB, fixC, and fixX genes is reported here. Sequence similarities between the protein sequences deduced from fixABCX genes and many electron transfer flavoproteins (ETFs) have been noted. Comparison of the amino acid sequences of both subunits of ETF with the A. brasilense fixA and fixB gene products exhibits an identity of 30%. The amino acid sequence of the other two genes, fixC and fixX, revealed similarity with the membrane-bound electron transfer flavoprotein ubiquinone oxidoreductase (ETF-QO). Using site-directed mutagenesis, mutations were introduced in the fixA promoter element of the A. brasilense fixABCX operon and chimeric pfixA-lacZ reporter gene fusions were constructed. The activation of the fixA promoter of A. brasilense is dependent upon the presence of the NifA protein being approximately 7 times less active than the A. brasilense nifH promoter. These results indicate that NifA from Klebsiella pneumoniae activates the fix promoter of A. brasilense and provide further evidence in support of the regulatory model of NifA activation in A. brasilense. Although no specific function has been assigned to the fixABCX gene products they are apparently required for symbiotic nitrogen fixation. An electron-transferring capacity in the nitrogen fixation pathway has been suggested for the fix gene products based on sequence homologies to the ETFs and ETF-QO proteins and by the absence of orthologous electron transfer proteins NifJ and NifF in A. brasilense.
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