Blackwell Publishing Journal Backfiles 1879-2005
Hydrogenase activity and other hydrogenase-related functions can be restored to hydC mutants by the specific addition of nickel salts to the growth medium. These mutants are defective in all three hydrogenase isoenzymes and the restoration is dependent upon protein synthesis. The cellular nickel content of the mutant when grown in LB medium is less than 1% of that of the parental strain. Partial suppression of the hydrogenase phenotype of hydC mutants occurs when growth takes place in a different medium. This correlates with an increased cellular nickel content. The phenotype of the mutant is also fully suppressed by growth in media of very low magnesium content. Such media facilitate nickel uptake via the magnesium transport system, which leads to the acquisition of a normal cellular nickel content. Mutations in the fnr gene, which encodes a transcriptional regulator for several anaerobically expressed enzymes, abolishes hydC expression and gives rise to a defective hydrogenase phenotype. The hydrogenase phenotype of fnr is closely similar to that of hydC in all respects examined. The hydrogenase activity of fnr strains can be restored by the presence of a functional hydC gene on a multicopy plasmid. The hydrogenase phenotype of fnr strains therefore arises indirectly via suppression of hydC, which leads to a low cellular nickel content. Nickel has no influence on fumarate reductase or nitrate reductase activities in fnr strains. The hydrogen-metabolism phenotype of fnr strains is, therefore, dependent upon their ability to acquire nickel from growth media. It is likely that hydC encodes a specific transport system for nickel.
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