Archives of Microbiology

, Volume 156, Issue 6, pp 463–470 | Cite as

Reversible interconversion of the functional state of the gene regulator FNR from Escherichia coli in vivo by O2 and iron availability

  • P. Engel
  • M. Trageser
  • G. Unden
Original Papers


FNR, the gene regulator of anaerobic respiratory genes of Escherichia coli is converted in vivo by O2 and by chelating agents to an inactive state. The interconversion process was studied in vivo in a strain with temperature controlled synthesis of FNR by measuring the expression of the frd (fumarate reductase) operon and the reactivity of FNR with the alkylating agent iodoacetic acid. FNR from aerobic bacteria is, after arresting FNR synthesis and shifting to anaerobic conditions, able to activate frd expression and behaves in the alkylation assay like anaerobic FNR. After shift from anaerobic to aerobic conditions, FNR no longer activates the expression of frd and reacts similar to aerobic FNR in the alkylation assay. The conversion of aerobic (inactive) to anaerobic (active) FNR occurs in the presence of chloramphenicol, an inhibitor of protein synthesis. Anaerobic FNR can also be converted post-translationally to inactive, metal-depleted FNR by growing the bacteria in the presence of chelating agents. The reverse is also possible by incubating metal-depleted bacteria with Fe2+. From the experiments it is concluded that the aerobic and the metal-depleted form of FNR can be transferred post-translationally and reversibly to the anaerobic (active) form. The response of FNR to changes in O2 supply therefore occurs at the FNR protein level in a reversible mode.

Key words

FNR protein Anaerobic respiration Fumarate reductase Oxygen regulation Iron(II) Gene regulation 


BVred =

reduced benzyl viologen


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • P. Engel
    • 1
  • M. Trageser
    • 1
  • G. Unden
    • 1
  1. 1.Institut für MikrobiologieJ. W. Goethe-UniversitätFrankfurt/MainGermany

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