The redox- and fixed nitrogen-responsive regulatory protein NIFL from Azotobacter vinelandii comprises discrete flavin and nucleotide-binding domains

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SummaryAzotobacter vinelandii NIFL is a nitrogen fixation-specific regulatory flavoprotein that modulates the activity of the transcriptional activator NIFA in response to oxygen and fixed nitrogen in vivo. NIFL is also responsive to ADP in vitro. Limited proteolysis of NIFL indicates that it comprises a relatively stable N-terminal domain and a C-terminal domain that is protected from trypsin digestion in the presence of adenosine nucleotides. ATP protects the protein from cleavage in the vicinity of potential nucleotide-binding sites in the C-terminus, whereas ADP protects the entire C-terminal domain. NIFL has an apparent Kd of 130 μM for ATP and 16 μM for ADP. The purified N-terminal domain has an identical UV/visible absorption spectrum to the wild-type protein and is reduced by sodium dithionite, demonstrating that it is a flavin-binding domain. The isolated N-terminal domain does not inhibit NIFA activity. A subdomain fragment containing 160 residues of the C-terminal region, including the nucleotide-binding sites, is also not competent to inhibit NIFA. Removal of the first 146 residues of NIFL, which includes a conserved S-motif (PAS-like domain), found in a large family of sensory proteins from eubacteria, archea and eukarya eliminates the redox response. However, this truncated protein remains competent to inhibit NIFA activity in response to ADP in vitro and to the level of fixed nitrogen in vivo. The redox and nitrogen-sensing functions of A. vinelandii NIFL are therefore separable and are discrete functions of the protein.

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