Structure-function analysis of NADPH:nitrate reductase from Aspergillus nidulans: analysis of altered pyridine nucleotide specificity in vivo

Microbiology (Reading). 2000 Jun;146 ( Pt 6):1399-1406. doi: 10.1099/00221287-146-6-1399.


Nitrate reductase (NaR) catalyses the reduction of nitrate to nitrite via a two-electron transfer. In fungi, the electron donor for NaR is NADPH whereas plants can have two enzymes, NADH:NaR and a bispecific NAD(P)H:NaR. PCR mutagenesis was employed to introduce mutations into the niaD gene of Aspergillus nidulans in order to identify residues involved in co-enzyme specificity. The niaD3000 mutation (NiaD T813D, K814Q) altered co-enzyme specificity: the new enzyme had high levels of NADH:NaR activity in vitro, whilst all NADPH-associated activity was lost. However, strains carrying this mutation did not grow on nitrate. Enzyme assays suggested that this was not due to inhibition of the mutant enzyme by NADPH. All revertants of the niaD3000 mutants had restored NADPH activity and lost NADH activity. Sequence analysis of these revertants showed that they all contained a single amino acid change at Asp-813, suggesting that this position is crucial to co-enzyme specificity. Further studies have shown that the mutant enzyme was not protected from deactivation by either co-factor in cell-free extracts (unlike the wild-type), and that induction of the glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase occurred independently of NADPH levels. These data highlight the importance of functional tests in vivo under physiological conditions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Aspergillus nidulans / enzymology*
  • Aspergillus nidulans / genetics
  • Aspergillus nidulans / growth & development
  • Base Sequence
  • Coenzymes / metabolism
  • DNA, Fungal / genetics
  • Genes, Fungal
  • Mutagenesis, Site-Directed
  • Mutation
  • NAD / metabolism
  • NADP / metabolism
  • Nitrate Reductase (NAD(P)H)
  • Nitrate Reductases / chemistry
  • Nitrate Reductases / genetics
  • Nitrate Reductases / metabolism*
  • Nitric Acid / metabolism
  • Phenotype
  • Substrate Specificity


  • Coenzymes
  • DNA, Fungal
  • NAD
  • Nitric Acid
  • NADP
  • Nitrate Reductases
  • Nitrate Reductase (NAD(P)H)