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Cloning And Mutagenesis Of Genes Encoding The Cytochrome Bd Terminal Oxidase Complex In Azotobacter Vinelandii: Mutants Deficient In The Cytochrome D Complex Are Unable To Fix Nitrogen In Air

M J Kelly, R K Poole, M G Yates, C Kennedy

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The genome of Azotobacter vinelandii contains DNA sequences homologous to the structural genes for the Escherichia coli cytochrome bd terminal oxidase complex. Two recombinant clones bearing cydA- and cydB-like sequence were isolated from an A. vinelandii gene library and subcloned into the plasmid vector pACYC184. Physical mapping demonstrated that the cydA- and cydB-like regions in A. vinelandii are contiguous. The cydAB and flanking DNA was mutagenized by the insertion of Tn5-B20. Mutations in the cydB-hybridizing region resulted in the loss of spectral features associated with cytochromes b595 and d. A new locus, cydB, encoding cytochromes b595 and d in A. vinelandii is proposed. A second region adjacent to cydB was also involved in expression of the cytochrome bd complex in A. vinelandii, since mutations in this region resulted in an increase in the levels of both cytochrome b595 and cytochrome d. The regions involved in expression of the cytochrome bd complex and cydB are transcribed in the same direction. Mutants deficient in cytochromes b595 and d were unable to grow on N-deficient medium when incubated in air but could fix nitrogen when the environmental O2 concentration was reduced to 1.5% (vol/vol). It is proposed that the branch of the respiratory chain terminated by the cytochrome bd complex supports the high respiration rates required for the respiratory protection of nitrogenase.