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Expression And Association Of Group IV Nitrogenase NifD And NifH Homologs In The Non-Nitrogen-Fixing Archaeon Methanocaldococcus Jannaschii

Christopher R. Staples, Surobhi Lahiri, Jason Raymond, Lindsay Von Herbulis, Biswarup Mukhophadhyay, Robert E. Blankenship

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ABSTRACT Using genomic analysis, researchers previously identified genes coding for proteins homologous to the structural proteins of nitrogenase (J. Raymond, J. L. Siefert, C. R. Staples, and R. E. Blankenship, Mol. Biol. Evol. 21:541-554, 2004). The expression and association of NifD and NifH nitrogenase homologs (named NflD and NflH for “Nif-like” D and H, respectively) have been detected in a non-nitrogen-fixing hyperthermophilic methanogen, Methanocaldococcus jannaschii . These homologs are expressed constitutively and do not appear to be directly involved with nitrogen metabolism or detoxification of compounds such as cyanide or azide. The NflH and NflD proteins were found to interact with each other, as determined by bacterial two-hybrid studies. Upon immunoisolation, NflD and NflH copurified, along with three other proteins whose functions are as yet uncharacterized. The apparent presence of genes coding for NflH and NflD in all known methanogens, their constitutive expression, and their high sequence similarity to the NifH and NifD proteins or the BchL and BchN/BchB proteins suggest that NflH and NflD participate in an indispensable and fundamental function(s) in methanogens.