Nitrite Inhibition of Clostridium botulinum: Electron Spin Resonance Detection of Iron-Nitric Oxide Complexes
Vegetative cells of Clostridium botulinum were shown to contain iron-sulfur proteins that react with added nitrite to form iron-nitric oxide complexes, with resultant destruction of the iron-sulfur cluster. Inactivation of iron-sulfur enzymes (especially ferredoxin) by binding of nitric oxide would almost certainly inhibit growth, and thus is probably the mechanism of botulinal inhibition by nitrite in foods.
Reddy, D., Lancaster Jr., J.R., and Cornforth, D.P. 1983. Nitrite inhibition of Clostridium botulinum: electron spin resonance detection of iron-nitric oxide complexes. Science 221:769.