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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Nitrogenase in the archaebacterium Methanosarcina barkeri 227.

The discovery of nitrogen fixation in the archaebacterium Methanosarcina barkeri 227 raises questions concerning the similarity of archaebacterial nitrogenases to Mo and alternative nitrogenases in eubacteria. A scheme for achieving a 20- to 40-fold partial purification of nitrogenase components from strain 227 was developed by using protamine sulfate precipitation, followed by using a fast protein liquid chromatography apparatus operated inside an anaerobic glove box. As in eubacteria, the nitrogenase activity was resolved into two components. The component 1 analog had a molecular size of approximately 250 kDa, as estimated by gel filtration, and sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gels revealed two predominant bands with molecular sizes near 57 and 62 kDa, consistent with an alpha 2 beta 2 tetramer as in eubacterial component 1 proteins. For the component 2 analog, a molecular size of approximately 120 kDa was estimated by gel filtration, with a subunit molecular size near 31 kDa, indicating that the component 2 protein is a tetramer, in contrast to eubacterial component 2 proteins, which are dimers. Rates of C2H2 reduction by the nearly pure subunits were 1,000 nmol h-1 mg of protein-1, considerably lower than those for conventional Mo nitrogenases but similar to that of the non-Mo non-V nitrogenase from Azotobacter vinelandii. Strain 227 nitrogenase reduced N2 at a higher rate per electron than it reduced C2H2, also resembling the non-Mo non-V nitrogenase of A. vinelandii. Ethane was not produced from C2H2. NH4+ concentrations as low as 10 microM caused a transient inhibition of C2H2 reduction by strain 227 cells. Antiserum against component 2 Rhodospirillum rubrum nitrogenase was found to cross-react with component 2 from strain 227, and Western immunoblots using this antiserum showed no evidence for covalent modification of component 2. Also, extracts of strain 227 cells prepared before and after switch-off had virtually the same level of nitrogenase activity. In conclusion, the nitrogenase from strain 227 is similar in overall structure to the eubacterial nitrogenases and shows greatest similarity to alternative nitrogenases.[1]


  1. Nitrogenase in the archaebacterium Methanosarcina barkeri 227. Lobo, A.L., Zinder, S.H. J. Bacteriol. (1990) [Pubmed]
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