Functional implications of the propionate 7-arginine 220 interaction in the FixLH oxygen sensor from Bradyrhizobium japonicum

Biochemistry. 2006 Feb 21;45(7):2072-84. doi: 10.1021/bi051696h.


BjFixL from Bradyrhizobium japonicum is a heme-based oxygen sensor implicated in the signaling cascade that enables the bacterium to adapt to fluctuating oxygen levels. Signal transduction is initiated by the binding of O(2) to the heme domain of BjFixL, resulting in protein conformational changes that are transmitted to a histidine kinase domain. We report structural changes of the heme and its binding pocket in the Fe(II) deoxy and Fe(III) met states of the wild-type BjFixLH oxygen sensor domain and four mutants of the highly conserved residue arginine 220. UV-visible, electron paramagnetic resonance, and resonance Raman spectroscopies all showed that the heme iron of the R220H mutant is unexpectedly six-coordinated at physiological pH in the Fe(III) state but undergoes pH- and redox-dependent coordination changes. This behavior is unprecedented for FixL proteins, but is reminiscent of another oxygen sensor from E. coli, EcDos. All mutants in their deoxy states are five-coordinated Fe(II), although we report rupture of the residue 220-propionate 7 interaction and structural modifications of the heme conformation as well as propionate geometry and flexibility. In this work, we conclude that part of the structural reorganization usually attributed to O(2) binding in the wild-type protein is in fact due to rupture of the Arg220-P7 interaction. Moreover, we correlate the structural modifications of the deoxy Fe(II) states with k(on) values and conclude that the Arg220-P7 interaction is responsible for the lower O(2) and CO k(on) values reported for the wild-type protein.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Arginine / genetics
  • Arginine / metabolism*
  • Bacterial Proteins / chemistry*
  • Bradyrhizobium / chemistry*
  • Carrier Proteins / metabolism
  • Escherichia coli Proteins / metabolism
  • Hemeproteins / chemistry*
  • Histidine Kinase
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Phosphoric Diester Hydrolases
  • Point Mutation
  • Propionates / metabolism*
  • Spectrophotometry, Ultraviolet


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Carrier Proteins
  • Escherichia coli Proteins
  • Hemeproteins
  • Propionates
  • Arginine
  • FixL protein, Bacteria
  • Histidine Kinase
  • Phosphoric Diester Hydrolases
  • dosP protein, E coli