Archives of biochemistry and biophysics

Bacterial expression of the molybdenum domain of assimilatory nitrate reductase: production of both the functional molybdenum-containing domain and the nonfunctional tungsten analog.

PMID 12139973


Assimilatory NADH:nitrate reductase (EC, a complex molybdenum-, cytochrome b(557)- and FAD-containing protein, catalyzes the regulated and rate-limiting step in the utilization of inorganic nitrogen by higher plants. To facilitate structure/function studies of the individual molybdenum center, we have developed bacterial expression systems for the heterologous production of the 541 residue amino-terminal, molybdenum center-containing domain of spinach nitrate reductase either as a six-histidine-tagged variant or as a glutathione-S-transferase-tagged fusion protein. Expression of the his-tagged molybdenum domain in Escherichia coli BL21(DE3) cells under anaerobic conditions yielded a 55-kDa domain with a specific activity of 1.5 micromol NO(3)(-) consumed/min/nmol enzyme and with a K(mapp)(NO(3)(-)) of 8 mciroM. In contrast, expression of the molybdenum domain as a GST-tagged fusion protein in E. coli TP1000(MobA(-) strain) cells under aerobic conditions yielded an 85-kDa fusion protein with a specific activity of 10.8 micromol NO(3)(-) consumed/min/nmol enzyme and with a K(mapp)(NO(3)(-)) of 12 microM. Fluorescence analysis indicated that both forms of the molybdenum domain contained the cofactor, MPT, although the MPT content was higher in the GST-fusion domain. Inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometric analysis of both the his-tagged and GST-fusion protein domain samples indicated Mo/protein ratios of 0.44 and 0.93, respectively, confirming a very high level of Mo incorporation in the GST-fusion protein. Expression of the GST-fusion protein in TP1000 cells in the presence of elevated tungsten concentrations resulted in an 85-kDa fusion protein that contained MPT but which was devoid of nitrate-reducing activity. Partial reduction of the molybdenum domain resulted in the generation of an axial Mo(V) EPR species with g values of 1.9952, 1.9693, and 1.9665, respectively, and exhibiting superhyperfine coupling to a single exchangeable proton, analogous to that previously observed for the native enzyme. In contrast, the tungsten-substituted MPT-containing domain yielded a W(V) EPR species with g values of 1.9560, 1.9474, and 1.9271, respectively, with unresolved superhyperfine interaction. NADH:nitrate reductase activity could be reconstituted using the GST-molybdenum domain fusion protein in the presence of the recombinant forms of the spinach nitrate reductase' flavin- and heme-containing domains.

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