Role of a ferredoxin gene cotranscribed with the nifHDK operon in N(2) fixation and nitrogenase "switch-off" of Azoarcus sp. strain BH72.
ABSTRACT: 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:BACKGROUND: Most biological nitrogen fixation is catalyzed by the molybdenum nitrogenase. This enzyme is a complex which contains the MoFe protein encoded by nifDK and the Fe protein encoded by nifH. In addition to nifHDK, nifHDK-like genes were found in some Archaea and Firmicutes, but their function is unclear. RESULTS: We sequenced the genome of Paenibacillus sabinae T27. A total of 4,793 open reading frames were predicted from its 5.27 Mb genome. The genome of P. sabinae T27 contains fifteen nitrogen fixation (nif) genes, including three nifH, one nifD, one nifK, four nifB, two nifE, two nifN, one nifX and one nifV. Of the 15 nif genes, eight nif genes (nifB, nifH, nifD, nifK, nifE, nifN, nifX and nifV) and two non-nif genes (orf1 and hesA) form a complete nif gene cluster. In addition to the nif genes, there are nitrogenase-like genes, including two nifH-like genes and five pairs of nifDK-like genes. IS elements on the flanking regions of nif and nif-like genes imply that these genes might have been obtained by horizontal gene transfer. Phylogenies of the concatenated 8 nif gene (nifB, nifH, nifD, nifK, nifE, nifN, nifX and nifV) products suggest that P. sabinae T27 is closely related to Frankia. RT-PCR analysis showed that the complete nif gene cluster is organized as an operon. We demonstrated that the complete nif gene cluster under the control of ?70-dependent promoter enabled Escherichia coli JM109 to fix nitrogen. Also, here for the first time we demonstrated that unlike nif genes, the transcriptions of nifHDK-like genes were not regulated by ammonium and oxygen, and nifH-like or nifD-like gene could not restore the nitrogenase activity of Klebsiella pneumonia nifH- and nifD- mutant strains, respectively, suggesting that nifHDK-like genes were not involved in nitrogen fixation. CONCLUSIONS: Our data and analysis reveal the contents and distribution of nif and nif-like genes and contribute to the study of evolutionary history of nitrogen fixation in Paenibacillus. For the first time we demonstrated that the transcriptions of nifHDK-like genes were not regulated by ammonium and oxygen and nifHDK-like genes were not involved in nitrogen fixation.
Project description:P(II)-like signal transmitter proteins, found in Bacteria, Archaea, and plants, are known to mediate control of carbon and nitrogen assimilation. They indirectly regulate the activity of key metabolic enzymes and transcription factors by protein-protein interactions with signal transduction proteins. Many Proteobacteria harbor two paralogous P(II)-like proteins, GlnB and GlnK, whereas a novel third P(II) paralogue (GlnY) was recently identified in Azoarcus sp. strain BH72, a diazotrophic endophyte of grasses. In the present study, evidence was obtained that the P(II)-like proteins have distinct roles in mediating nitrogen and oxygen control of nif gene transcription and nitrogenase activity. Full repression of nif gene transcription in the presence of a combined nitrogen source or high oxygen concentrations was observed in wild-type and glnB and glnK knockout mutants, revealing that GlnB and GlnK can complement each other in mediating the repression. In contrast, in a glnBK double mutant strain in the presence of only GlnY, nif gene transcription was still detectable, albeit at a lower level, on nitrate or 20% oxygen. As another level of control, nitrogenase activity was regulated by at least three types of mechanisms in strain BH72: covalent modification of dinitrogenase reductase (NifH), probably by ADP-ribosylation, and two other, unknown means. Functional inactivation upon ammonium addition (switch-off) required the putative high-affinity ammonium transporter AmtB and GlnK, but not GlnB or GlnY. Functional inactivation in response to anaerobiosis did not depend on AmtB, GlnK, or GlnB. In contrast, covalent modification of NifH required both GlnB and GlnK and AmtB as response to ammonium addition, whereas it required either GlnB or GlnK and not AmtB when cells were shifted to anaerobiosis. In a glnBK double mutant expressing only GlnY, NifH modification was completely abolished, further revealing functional differences between the three P(II) paralogues.
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:DraT/DraG-mediated posttranslational regulation of the nitrogenase Fe protein by ADP-ribosylation has been described for a few diazotrophic bacteria belonging to the class Alphaproteobacteria. Here we present for the first time the DraT/DraG system of a betaproteobacterium, Azoarcus sp. strain BH72, a diazotrophic grass endophyte. Its genome harbors one draT ortholog and two physically unlinked genes coding for ADP-ribosylhydrolases. Northern blot analysis revealed cotranscription of draT with two genes encoding hypothetical proteins. Furthermore, draT and draG2 were expressed under all studied conditions, whereas draG1 expression was nitrogen regulated. By using Western blot analysis of deletion mutants and nitrogenase assays in vivo, we demonstrated that DraT is required for the nitrogenase Fe protein modification but not for the physiological inactivation of nitrogenase activity. A second mechanism responsible for nitrogenase inactivation must operate in this bacterium, which is independent of DraT. Fe protein demodification was dependent mainly on DraG1, corroborating the assumption from phylogenetic analysis that DraG2 might be mostly involved in processes other than the posttranslational regulation of nitrogenase. Nitrogenase in vivo reactivation was impaired in a draG1 mutant and a mutant lacking both draG alleles after anaerobiosis shifts and subsequent adjustment to microaerobic conditions, suggesting that modified dinitrogenase reductase was inactive. Our results demonstrate that the DraT/DraG system, despite some differences, is functionally conserved in diazotrophic proteobacteria.
Project description:Rnf proteins are proposed to form membrane-protein complexes involved in the reduction of target proteins such as the transcriptional regulator SoxR or the dinitrogenase reductase component of nitrogenase. In this work, we investigate the role of rnf genes in the nitrogen-fixing bacterium Azotobacter vinelandii. We show that A. vinelandii has two clusters of rnf-like genes: rnf1, whose expression is nif-regulated, and rnf2, which is expressed independently of the nitrogen source in the medium. Deletion of each of these gene clusters produces a time delay in nitrogen-fixing capacity and, consequently, in diazotrophic growth. Deltarnf mutations cause two distinguishable effects on the nitrogenase system: (i), slower nifHDK gene expression and (ii), impairment of nitrogenase function. In these mutants, dinitrogenase reductase activity is lowered, whereas dinitrogenase activity remains essentially unaltered. Further analysis indicates that deltarnf mutants accumulate an inactive and iron-deficient form of NifH because they have lower rates of incorporation of [4Fe-4S] into NifH. Deltarnf mutations also cause a noticeable decrease in aconitase activity; however, they do not produce general oxidative stress or modification of Fe metabolism in A. vinelandii. Our results suggest the existence of a redox regulatory mechanism in A. vinelandii that controls the rate of expression and maturation of nitrogenase by the activity of the Rnf protein complexes. rnf1 plays a major and more specific role in this scheme, but the additive effects of mutations in rnf1 and rnf2 indicate the existence of functional complementation between the two homologous systems.
Project description:Biological N2 fixation (BNF) in the rhizosphere of Podocarpaceae is currently attributed to unspecific diazotrophs with negligible impact on N acquisition. Here, we report specific and high associative BNF in dead cells of root nodules of Lepidothamnus fonkii distributed in ombrotrophic peatlands of Patagonia. BNF of nodulated roots, intact plants of L. fonkii and rhizospheric peat was assessed by 15N2 and acetylene reduction. Diazotrophs were identified by electron microscopy, analysis of nitrogenase encoding genes (nifH) and transcripts, and 16S rRNA. Nitrogenase encoding nifH transcripts from root nodules point to Beijerinckiaceae (Rhizobiales), known as free-living diazotrophs. Electron microscopy and 16S rRNA analysis likewise identified active Beijerinckiaceae in outer dead cells of root nodules. NifH transcripts from the rhizopshere peat revealed diverse active diazotrophs including Beijerinckiaceae. Both methods revealed high activity of nitrogenase rates in cut roots of L. fonkii (2.5??mol N g-1 d.w. d-1 based on 15N2 assay; 2.4??mol C2H4 g-1 d.w. d-1 based on acetylene reduction assay). The data suggest that (i) nodules recruit diazotrophic Beijerinckiaceae from peat, (ii) dead nodule cells provide an exclusive habitat for Beijerinckiaceae, and (iii) BNF in L. fonkii is one potent pathway to overcome N deficiency in ombrotrophic peatlands of Patagonia.
Project description: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:Strain DS988, an Azotobacter vinelandii mutant with a reduced capacity to accumulate poly-beta-hydroxybutyrate, was isolated after mini-Tn5 mutagenesis of the UW136 strain. Cloning and nucleotide sequencing of the affected locus revealed a gene homologous to Escherichia coli ptsP which encodes enzyme INtr, a homologue of enzyme I of the phosphoenol pyruvate-sugar phosphotransferase system with an N-terminal domain similar to the N-terminal domain of some NifA proteins. Strain DS988 was unable to grow diazotrophically with 10 mM glucose as a carbon source. Diazotrophic growth on alternative carbon sources such as gluconate was only slightly affected. Glucose uptake, as well as glucose kinase and glucose-6-phosphate-dehydrogenase activities that lead to the synthesis of gluconate-6-phosphate, were not affected by the ptsP mutation. The inability of DS988 to grow diazotrophically in 10 mM glucose was overcome by supplying ammonium or other sources of fixed nitrogen. Acetylene reduction activity but not transcription of the nitrogenase structural gene nifH was shown to be impaired in strain DS988 when it was incubated in 10 mM glucose. The diazotrophic growth defect of DS988 was restored either by increasing the glucose concentration to above 20 mM or by lowering the oxygen concentration. These data suggest that a mutation in ptsP leads to a failure in poly-beta-hydroxybutyrate metabolism and in the respiratory protection of nitrogenase under carbon-limiting conditions.
Project description:The invasive properties of Azoarcus sp. strain BH72, an endorhizospheric isolate of Kallar grass, on gnotobiotically grown seedlings of Oryza sativa IR36 and Leptochloa fusca (L.) Kunth were studied. Additionally, Azoarcus spp. were localized in roots of field-grown Kallar grass. To facilitate localization and to assure identity of bacteria, genetically engineered microorganisms expressing beta-glucuronidase were also used as inocula. beta-Glucuronidase staining indicated that the apical region of the root behind the meristem was the most intensively colonized. Light and electron microscopy showed that strain BH72 penetrated the rhizoplane preferentially in the zones of elongation and differentiation and colonized the root interior inter- and intracellularly. In addition to the root cortex, stelar tissue was also colonized; bacteria were found in the xylem. No evidence was obtained that Azoarcus spp. could reside in living plant cells; rather, plant cells were apparently destroyed after bacteria had penetrated the cell wall. A common pathogenicity test on tobacco leaves provided no evidence that representative strains of Azoarcus spp. are phytopathogenic. Compared with the control, inoculation with strain BH72 significantly promoted growth of rice seedlings. This effect was reversed when the plant medium was supplemented with malate (0.2 g/liter). N2 fixation was apparently not involved, because the same response was obtained with a nifK mutant of strain BH72, which has a Nif- phenotype. Also, Western blot (immunoblot) analysis of protein extracts from rice seedlings gave no indication that nitrogenase was present. PCR and Western immunoblotting, using primers specific for eubacteria and antibodies recognizing type-specific antigens, respectively, indicated that strain BH72 could colonize rice plants systemically, probably mediated by longitudinal spreading through vessels.
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