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Transcriptional adaptation to nitrate-dependent anabolism by Paracoccus denitrificans PD1222 was studied. A total of 74 genes were induced in cells grown with nitrate as N-source compared with ammonium, including nasTSABGHC and ntrBC genes. The nasT and nasS genes were cotranscribed, although nasT was more strongly induced by nitrate than nasS The nasABGHC genes constituted a transcriptional unit, which is preceded by a non-coding region containing hairpin structures involved in transcription termination. The nasTS and nasABGHC transcripts were detected at similar levels with nitrate or glutamate as N-source, but nasABGHC transcript was undetectable in ammonium-grown cells. The nitrite reductase NasG subunit was detected by two-dimensional polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis in cytoplasmic fractions from nitrate-grown cells, but it was not observed when either ammonium or glutamate was used as the N-source. The nasT mutant lacked both nasABGHC transcript and nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NADH)-dependent nitrate reductase activity. On the contrary, the nasS mutant showed similar levels of the nasABGHC transcript to the wild-type strain and displayed NasG protein and NADH-nitrate reductase activity with all N-sources tested, except with ammonium. Ammonium repression of nasABGHC was dependent on the Ntr system. The ntrBC and ntrYX genes were expressed at low levels regardless of the nitrogen source supporting growth. Mutational analysis of the ntrBCYX genes indicated that while ntrBC genes are required for nitrate assimilation, ntrYX genes can only partially restore growth on nitrate in the absence of ntrBC genes. The existence of a regulation mechanism for nitrate assimilation in P. denitrificans, by which nitrate induction operates at both transcriptional and translational levels, is proposed.

Original publication




Journal article


Biochem J

Publication Date





1769 - 1787


Paracoccus, global nitrogen regulator Ntr, nitrate assimilation, nitrate reductase, nitrate/nitrite-sensor protein, nitrogen regulation, Adaptation, Physiological, Ammonium Compounds, Bacterial Proteins, Energy Metabolism, Gene Expression Profiling, Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial, Glutamic Acid, Models, Biological, Mutagenesis, Site-Directed, Mutation, Nitrate Reductase (NADH), Nitrates, Nitrogen Cycle, Paracoccus denitrificans, Proteomics, RNA, Bacterial, RNA, Messenger, Regulatory Elements, Transcriptional, Repressor Proteins, Trans-Activators