Transcriptional profiling of nitrogen fixation and the role of NifA in the diazotrophic endophyte Azoarcus sp. strain BH72.
ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: The model endophyte Azoarcus sp. strain BH72 is known to contribute fixed nitrogen to its host Kallar grass and also expresses nitrogenase genes endophytically in rice seedlings. Availability of nitrogen is a signal regulating the transcription of nitrogenase genes. Therefore, we analysed global transcription in response to differences in the nitrogen source. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: A DNA microarray, comprising 70-mer oligonucleotides representing 3989 open reading frames of the genome of strain BH72, was used for transcriptome studies. Transcription profiles of cells grown microaerobically on N2 versus ammonium were compared. Expression of 7.2% of the genes was significantly up-regulated, and 5.8% down-regulated upon N2 fixation, respectively. A parallel genome-wide prediction of ?(54)-type promoter elements mapped to the upstream region of 38 sequences of which 36 were modulated under the N2 response. In addition to modulation of genes related to N2 fixation, the expressions of gene clusters that might be related to plant-microbe interaction and of several transcription factors were significantly enhanced. While comparing under N2-fixation conditions the transcriptome of wild type with a nifLA(-) insertion mutant, NifA being the essential transcriptional activator for nif genes, 24.5% of the genome was found to be affected in expression. A genome-wide prediction of 29 NifA binding sequences matched to 25 of the target genes whose expression was differential during microarray analysis, some of which were putatively negatively regulated by NifA. For selected genes, differential expression was corroborated by real time RT-PCR studies. CONCLUSION/SIGNIFICANCE: Our data suggest that life under conditions of nitrogen fixation is an important part of the lifestyle of strain BH72 in roots, as a wide range of genes far beyond the nif regulon is modulated. Moreover, the NifA regulon in strain BH72 appears to encompass a wider range of cellular functions beyond the regulation of nif genes.
Project description:Nitrogen fixation is a tightly regulated trait. Switching from N2 fixation-repressing conditions to the N2-fixing state is carefully controlled in diazotrophic bacteria mainly because of the high energy demand that it imposes. By using quantitative real-time PCR and quantitative immunoblotting, we show here how nitrogen fixation (nif) gene expression develops in Azotobacter vinelandii upon derepression. Transient expression of the transcriptional activator-encoding gene, nifA, was followed by subsequent, longer-duration waves of expression of the nitrogenase biosynthetic and structural genes. Importantly, expression timing, expression levels, and NifA dependence varied greatly among the nif operons. Moreover, the exact concentrations of Nif proteins and their changes over time were determined for the first time. Nif protein concentrations were exquisitely balanced, with FeMo cofactor biosynthetic proteins accumulating at levels 50- to 100-fold lower than those of the structural proteins. Mutants lacking nitrogenase structural genes or impaired in FeMo cofactor biosynthesis showed overenhanced responses to derepression that were proportional to the degree of nitrogenase activity impairment, consistent with the existence of at least two negative-feedback regulatory mechanisms. The first such mechanism responded to the levels of fixed nitrogen, whereas the second mechanism appeared to respond to the levels of the mature NifDK component. Altogether, these findings provide a framework to engineer N2 fixation in nondiazotrophs.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Biological nitrogen fixation is highly controlled at the transcriptional level by regulatory networks that respond to the availability of fixed nitrogen. In many diazotrophs, addition of excess ammonium in the growth medium results in immediate repression of nif gene transcription. Although the regulatory cascades that control the transcription of the nif genes in proteobacteria have been well investigated, there are limited data on the kinetics of ammonium-dependent repression of nitrogen fixation. RESULTS: Here we report a global transcriptional profiling analysis of nitrogen fixation and ammonium repression in Pseudomonas stutzeri A1501, a root-associated and nitrogen-fixing bacterium. A total of 166 genes, including those coding for the global nitrogen regulation (Ntr) and Nif-specific regulatory proteins, were upregulated under nitrogen fixation conditions but rapidly downregulated as early as 10 min after ammonium shock. Among these nitrogen fixation-inducible genes, 95 have orthologs in each of Azoarcus sp. BH72 and Azotobacter vinelandii AvoP. In particular, a 49-kb expression island containing nif and other associated genes was markedly downregulated by ammonium shock. Further functional characterization of pnfA, a new NifA-sigma54-dependent gene chromosomally linked to nifHDK, is reported. This gene encodes a protein product with an amino acid sequence similar to that of five hypothetical proteins found only in diazotrophic strains. No noticeable differences in the transcription of nifHDK were detected between the wild type strain and pnfA mutant. However, the mutant strain exhibited a significant decrease in nitrogenase activity under microaerobic conditions and lost its ability to use nitrate as a terminal electron acceptor for the support of nitrogen fixation under anaerobic conditions. CONCLUSIONS: Based on our results, we conclude that transcriptional regulation of nif gene expression in A1501 is mediated by the nif-specific and ntr gene regulatory systems. Furthermore, microarray and mutational analyses revealed that many genes of unknown function may play some essential roles in controlling the expression or activity of nitrogenase. The findings presented here establish the foundation for further studies on the physiological function of nitrogen fixation-inducible genes.
Project description:Azoarcus sp. BH72 is known to express nitrogenase genes endophytically in rice seedlings in gnotobiotic culture. Availability of fixed nitrogen is one of the important signals regulating the transcription of nitrogenase genes and hence nitrogen fixing activity. NifA is the essential transcription activator of nif genes. RNA isolated from the nifA knockout mutant of strain BH72 was compared with the transcriptome of wild type under nitrogen fixing condition using a global genome wide microarray approach and the differences in the gene expression profile were monitered. RNA isolated from wild type strain BH72 and nifLA mutant strain BHLAO grown respectively under microaerobic nitrogen fixing condition with glutamate as poor nitrogen source was used for two color whole genome microarray approach
Project description:Diazotrophic (nitrogen-fixing) Gram-positive and endospore-formed Paenibacillus spp. have potential uses as a bacterial fertilizer in agriculture. The transcriptional analysis of nitrogen fixation in Paenibacillus is lacking, although regulation mechanisms of nitrogen fixation have been well studied in Gram-negative diazotrophs.Here we report a global transcriptional profiling analysis of nitrogen fixation in Paenibacillus sp. WLY78 cultured under N2-fixing condition (without O2 and NH4(+)) and non-N2-fixing condition (air and 100 mM NH4(+)). The nif (nitrogen fixation) gene operon composed of 9 genes (nifBHDKENXhesAnifV) in this bacterium was significantly up-regulated in N2-fixing condition compared to non-N2-fixing condition, indicating that nif gene transcription is strictly controlled by NH4(+) and O2. qRT-PCR confirmed that these nif genes were differently expressed. Non-nif genes specifically required in nitrogen fixation, such as mod, feoAB and cys encoding transporters of Mo, Fe and S atoms, were coordinately transcribed with nif genes in N2-fixing condition. The transcript abundance of suf operon specific for synthesis of Fe-S cluster was up-regulated in N2-fixing condition, suggesting that Sul system, which takes place of nifS and nifU, plays important role in the synthesis of nitrogenase. We discover potential specific electron transporters which might provide electron from Fe protein to MoFe protein of nitrogenase. The glnR whose predicted protein might mediate nif transcription regulation by NH4(+) is significantly up-regulated in N2-fixing condition. The transcription levels of nitrogen metabolism and anaerobic respiration were also analyzed.The nif gene operon (nifBHDKENXhesAnifV) in Paenibacillus sp. WLY78 is significantly up-regulated in N2-fixing condition compared to non-N2-fixing condition. Non-nif genes specifically required in nitrogen fixation were also significantly up-regulated in N2-fixing condition. Fur and Fnr which are involved in anaerobic regulation and GlnR which might mediate nif gene transcription regulation by NH4(+) were significantly up-regulated in N2-fixing condition. This study provides valuable insights into nitrogen fixation process and regulation in Gram-positive firmicutes.
Project description:Rhodobacter capsulatus fixes atmospheric nitrogen (N2 ) by a molybdenum (Mo)-nitrogenase and a Mo-free iron (Fe)-nitrogenase, whose production is induced or repressed by Mo, respectively. At low nanomolar Mo concentrations, both isoenzymes are synthesized and contribute to nitrogen fixation. Here we examined the regulatory interplay of the central transcriptional activators NifA and AnfA by proteome profiling. As expected from earlier studies, synthesis of the structural proteins of Mo-nitrogenase (NifHDK) and Fe-nitrogenase (AnfHDGK) required NifA and AnfA, respectively, both of which depend on the alternative sigma factor RpoN to activate expression of their target genes. Unexpectedly, NifA was found to be essential for the synthesis of Fe-nitrogenase, electron supply to both nitrogenases, biosynthesis of their cofactors, and production of RpoN. Apparently, RpoN is the only NifA-dependent factor required for target gene activation by AnfA, since plasmid-borne rpoN restored anfH transcription in a NifA-deficient strain. However, plasmid-borne rpoN did not restore Fe-nitrogenase activity in this strain. Taken together, NifA requirement for synthesis and activity of both nitrogenases suggests that Fe-nitrogenase functions as a complementary nitrogenase rather than an alternative isoenzyme in R. capsulatus.
Project description:The endophytic diazotroph Azoarcus sp. strain BH72 is capable of infecting rice roots and of expressing the nitrogenase (nif) genes there. In order to study the genetic background for nitrogen fixation in strain BH72, the structural genes of nitrogenase (nifHDK) were cloned and sequenced. The sequence analysis revealed an unusual gene organization: downstream of nifHDK, a ferredoxin gene (fdxN; 59% amino acid sequence identity to R. capsulatus FdxN) and open reading frames showing 52 and 36% amino acid sequence identity to nifY of Pseudomonas stutzeri A15 and ORF1 of Azotobacter vinelandii were located. Northern blot analysis, reverse transcriptase PCR and primer extension analysis revealed that these six genes are located on one transcript transcribed from a sigma(54)-type promoter. Shorter transcripts sequentially missing genes of the 3' part of the full-length mRNA were more abundantly detected. Mutational analyses suggested that FdxN is an important but not the essential electron donor for dinitrogenase reductase. An in-frame deletion of fdxN resulted in reduced growth rates (59% +/- 9%) and nitrogenase activities (81%) in nitrogen-fixing pure cultures in comparison to the wild type. Nitrogenase activity was fully complemented in an fdxN mutant which carried a nifH promoter-driven fdxN gene in trans. Also, in coculture with the ascomycete Acremonium alternatum, where strain BH72 develops intracytoplasmic membrane stacks, the nitrogenase activity in the fdxN deletion mutant was decreased to 56% of the wild-type level. Surprisingly, the fdxN deletion also had an effect on the rapid "switch-off" of nitrogenase activity in response to ammonium. Wild-type strain BH72 and the deletion mutant complemented with fdxN in trans showed a rapid reversible inactivation of acetylene reduction, while the deletion mutant did not cease to reduce acetylene. In concordance with the hypothesis that changes in the redox state of NifH or electron flux towards nitrogenase may be involved in the mechanism of physiological nitrogenase switch-off, our results suggest that the ferredoxin may be a component involved in this process.
Project description:The Bradyrhizobium sp. DOA9 strain displays the unusual properties to have a symbiotic plasmid and to fix nitrogen during both free-living and symbiotic growth. Sequence genome analysis shows that this strain contains the structural genes of dinitrogenase (nifDK) and the nifA regulatory gene on both the plasmid and chromosome. It was previously shown that both nifDK clusters are differentially expressed depending on growth conditions, suggesting different mechanisms of regulation. In this study, we examined the functional regulatory role of the two nifA genes found on the plasmid (nifAp) and chromosome (nifAc) that encode proteins with a moderate level of identity (55%) and different structural architectures. Using gusA (?-glucuronidase) reporter strains, we showed that both nifA genes were expressed during both the free-living and symbiotic growth stages. During symbiosis with Aeschynomene americana, mutants in only one nifA gene were not altered in their symbiotic properties, while a double nifA mutant was drastically impaired in nitrogen fixation, indicating that the two NifA proteins are functionally redundant during this culture condition. In contrast, under in vitro conditions, the nifAc mutant was unable to fix nitrogen, and no effect of the nifAp mutation was detected, indicating that NifAc is essential to activate nif genes during free-living growth. In accordance, the nitrogenase fixation deficiency of this mutant could be restored by the introduction of nifAc but not by nifAp or by two chimeric nifA genes encoding hybrid proteins with the N-terminus part of NifAc and the C-terminus of NifAp. Furthermore, transcriptional analysis by RT-qPCR of the WT and two nifA mutant backgrounds showed that NifAc and NifAp activated the expression of both chromosome and plasmid structural nifDK genes during symbiosis, while only NifAc activated the expression of nifDKc during free-living conditions. In summary, this study provides a better overview of the complex mechanisms of regulation of the nitrogenase genes in the DOA9 strain that involve two distinct NifA proteins, which are exchangeable during symbiosis for the activation of nif genes but not during free-living growth where NifAc is essential for the activation of nifDKc.
Project description:We provide here a comparative genome analysis of 31 strains within the genus Paenibacillus including 11 new genomic sequences of N2-fixing strains. The heterogeneity of the 31 genomes (15 N2-fixing and 16 non-N2-fixing Paenibacillus strains) was reflected in the large size of the shell genome, which makes up approximately 65.2% of the genes in pan genome. Large numbers of transposable elements might be related to the heterogeneity. We discovered that a minimal and compact nif cluster comprising nine genes nifB, nifH, nifD, nifK, nifE, nifN, nifX, hesA and nifV encoding Mo-nitrogenase is conserved in the 15 N2-fixing strains. The nif cluster is under control of a ?(70)-depedent promoter and possesses a GlnR/TnrA-binding site in the promoter. Suf system encoding [Fe-S] cluster is highly conserved in N2-fixing and non-N2-fixing strains. Furthermore, we demonstrate that the nif cluster enabled Escherichia coli JM109 to fix nitrogen. Phylogeny of the concatenated NifHDK sequences indicates that Paenibacillus and Frankia are sister groups. Phylogeny of the concatenated 275 single-copy core genes suggests that the ancestral Paenibacillus did not fix nitrogen. The N2-fixing Paenibacillus strains were generated by acquiring the nif cluster via horizontal gene transfer (HGT) from a source related to Frankia. During the history of evolution, the nif cluster was lost, producing some non-N2-fixing strains, and vnf encoding V-nitrogenase or anf encoding Fe-nitrogenase was acquired, causing further diversification of some strains. In addition, some N2-fixing strains have additional nif and nif-like genes which may result from gene duplications. The evolution of nitrogen fixation in Paenibacillus involves a mix of gain, loss, HGT and duplication of nif/anf/vnf genes. This study not only reveals the organization and distribution of nitrogen fixation genes in Paenibacillus, but also provides insight into the complex evolutionary history of nitrogen fixation.
Project description:Azorhizobium caulinodans is able to fix nitrogen in the free-living state and in symbiosis with the tropical legume Sesbania rostrata. The bacteria accumulate poly-beta-hydroxybutyrate (PHB) under both conditions. The structural gene for PHB synthase, phbC, was inactivated by insertion of an interposon. The mutant strains obtained were devoid of PHB, impaired in their growth properties, totally devoid of nitrogenase activity ex planta (Nif-), and affected in nucleotide pools and induced Fix- nodules devoid of bacteria. The Nif- phenotype was the consequence of the lack of nifA transcription. Nitrogenase activity was partially restored to a phbC mutant by constitutive expression of the nifA gene. However, this constitutive nifA expression had no effect on the nucleotide content or on growth of the phbC mutant. It is suggested that PHB is required for maintaining the reducing power of the cell and therefore the bacterial growth. These observations also suggest a new control of nifA expression to adapt nitrogen fixation to the availability of carbon and reducing equivalents.
Project description:Expression of nitrogenase genes (nifHDK) is strictly regulated at both transcriptional and posttranscriptional levels. Efficient nitrogenase activity requires maintaining sufficient levels of nif mRNAs, yet the underlying mechanism is not fully understood due to its complexity. We have previously shown that a novel regulatory noncoding RNA (ncRNA), NfiS, optimizes nitrogen fixation through targeting nifK mRNA in Pseudomonas stutzeri A1501. Here, we report the identification and characterization of a second ncRNA inducible under nitrogen fixation conditions (nitrogen-free and microaerobic conditions), termed NfiR (for nitrogen fixation condition-inducible ncRNA), the expression of which is dependent on two global regulators, NtrC and Hfq. Comparative phenotypic and proteomic analyses of an nfiR mutant identify a role of NfiR in regulating the expression of nitrogenase genes. Further microscale thermophoresis and genetic complementation showed that an 11-nucleotide (nt) sequence in the stem-loop structure of NfiR (nucleotides 12 to 22) pairs with its counterpart in the coding region of nifD mRNA (nucleotides 1194 to 1207) by eight nucleotides. Significantly, deletion of nfiR caused a 60% reduction of nitrogenase activity, and the half-life of nifD mRNA was reduced from 20 min for the wild type to 15 min for the ΔnfiR mutant. With regard to nitrogenase activity and stability of the nifD and nifK transcripts, phenotypes were more severe for the double deletion mutant lacking nfiR and nfiS, suggesting that NfiR, in concert with NfiS, optimizes nitrogenase production at the posttranscriptional level.IMPORTANCE Biological nitrogen fixation is an energy-expensive process requiring the hydrolysis of 16 ATPs. Consequently, the expression of nif genes is highly regulated at both transcriptional and posttranscriptional levels through complex regulatory networks. Global regulation involves a number of regulatory proteins, such as the nif-specific activator NifA and the global nitrogen regulator NtrC, as well as various regulatory ncRNAs. We show that the two P. stutzeri ncRNAs, namely NfiS and NfiR (for nitrogen fixation condition-inducible ncRNA), optimize nitrogen fixation and environmental stress responses. NfiS and NfiR respond differently to various environmental signals and differ in their secondary structures. In addition, the two ncRNAs target the mRNAs of nifK and nifD, respectively. Such ncRNA-based posttranscriptional regulation of nitrogenase expression might be an evolved survival strategy, particularly in nitrogen-limiting environments. This study not only highlights the significant roles of regulatory ncRNAs in the coordination and ﬁne tuning of various physiological processes but also provides a new paradigm for posttranscriptional regulation in nitrogen-fixing bacteria.