Article Summary
Archaea, 1:143150
© 2002 Heron PublishingVictoria, Canada
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Functional organization of a single nif cluster in the mesophilic archaeon Methanosarcina mazei strain Gö1

CLAUDIA EHLERS,1 KATHARINA VEIT,1 GERHARD GOTTSCHALK 1,2 and RUTH A. SCHMITZ 1,3

1 Abteilung Allgemeine Mikrobiologie, Institut für Mikrobiologie und Genetik der Georg-August-Universität, Grisebachstr. 8, 37077 Göttingen, Germany
2 Göttingen Genomics Laboratory, Institut für Mikrobiologie und Genetik der Georg-August-Universität, Grisebachstr. 8, 37077 Göttingen, Germany
3 Author to whom correspondence should be addressed ([email protected])

Received June 6, 2002; accepted July 10, 2002; published online July 29, 2002

Summary
The mesophilic methanogenic archaeon Methanosarcina mazei strain Gö1 is able to utilize molecular nitrogen (N2) as its sole nitrogen source. We have identified and characterized a single nitrogen fixation (nif) gene cluster in M. mazei Gö1 with an approximate length of 9 kbp. Sequence analysis revealed seven genes with sequence similarities to nifH, nifI1, nifI2, nifD, nifK, nifE and nifN, similar to other diazotrophic methanogens and certain bacteria such as Clostridium acetobutylicum, with the two glnB-like genes (nifI1 and nifI2) located between nifH and nifD. Phylogenetic analysis of deduced amino acid sequences for the nitrogenase structural genes of M. mazei Gö1 showed that they are most closely related to Methanosarcina barkeri nif2 genes, and also closely resemble those for the corresponding nif products of the gram-positive bacterium C. acetobutylicum. Northern blot analysis and reverse transcription PCR analysis demonstrated that the M. mazei nif genes constitute an operon transcribed only under nitrogen starvation as a single 8 kb transcript. Sequence analysis revealed a palindromic sequence at the transcriptional start site in front of the M. mazei nifH gene, which may have a function in transcriptional regulation of the nif operon.

Keywords
GlnB-like proteins, nif genes, nitrogen fixation, nitrogen regulation.