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American Society for Microbiology





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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


The nitrogen-fixing microbe Azotobacter vinelandii has the ability to produce three genetically distinct, but mechanistically similar, components that catalyze nitrogen fixation. For two of these components, the Mo-dependent and V-dependent components, their corresponding metal-containing active site cofactors, designated FeMo-cofactor and FeV-cofactor, respectively, are preformed on separate molecular scaffolds designated NifEN and VnfEN, respectively. From prior studies, and the present work, it is now established that neither of these scaffolds can replace the other with respect to their in vivo cofactor assembly functions. Namely, a strain inactivated for NifEN cannot produce active Mo-dependent nitrogenase nor can a strain inactivated for VnfEN produce an active V-dependent nitrogenase. It is therefore proposed that metal specificities for FeMo-cofactor and FeV-cofactor formation are supplied by their respective assembly scaffolds. In the case of the third, Fe-only component, its associated active site cofactor, designated FeFe-cofactor, requires neither the NifEN nor VnfEN assembly scaffold for its formation. Furthermore, there are no other genes present in A. vinelandii that encode proteins having primary structure similarity to either NifEN or VnfEN. It is therefore concluded that FeFe-cofactor assembly is completed within its cognate catalytic protein partner without the aid of an intermediate assembly site.



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