Compensatory periplasmic nitrate reductase activity supports anaerobic growth of Pseudomonas aeruginosa PAO1 in the absence of membrane nitrate reductase

Can J Microbiol. 2009 Oct;55(10):1133-44. doi: 10.1139/w09-065.


Nitrate serves as a terminal electron acceptor under anaerobic conditions in Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Reduction of nitrate to nitrite generates a transmembrane proton motive force allowing ATP synthesis and anaerobic growth. The inner membrane-bound nitrate reductase NarGHI is encoded within the narK1K2GHJI operon, and the periplasmic nitrate reductase NapAB is encoded within the napEFDABC operon. The roles of the 2 dissimilatory nitrate reductases in anaerobic growth, and the regulation of their expressions, were examined by use of a set of deletion mutants in P. aeruginosa PAO1. NarGHI mutants were unable to grow anaerobically, but plate cultures remained viable up to 120 h. In contrast, the nitrate sensor-response regulator mutant DeltanarXL displayed growth arrest initially, but resumed growth after 72 h and reached the early stationary phase in liquid culture after 120 h. Genetic, transcriptional, and biochemical studies demonstrated that anaerobic growth recovery by the NarXL mutant was the result of NapAB periplasmic nitrate reductase expression. A novel transcriptional start site for napEFDABC expression was identified in the NarXL mutant grown anaerobically. Furthermore, mutagenesis of a consensus NarL-binding site monomer upstream of the novel transcriptional start site restored anaerobic growth recovery in the NarXL mutant. The data suggest that during anaerobic growth of wild-type P. aeruginosa PAO1, the nitrate response regulator NarL directly represses expression of periplasmic nitrate reductase, while inducing maximal expression of membrane nitrate reductase.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anaerobiosis
  • Base Sequence
  • Catalytic Domain / genetics
  • Cell Membrane / enzymology
  • DNA, Bacterial / genetics
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Gene Expression
  • Genes, Bacterial
  • Mutagenesis, Site-Directed
  • Mutation
  • Nitrate Reductase / genetics
  • Nitrate Reductase / metabolism*
  • Nitrites / metabolism
  • Operon
  • Periplasm / enzymology
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa / enzymology*
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa / genetics
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa / growth & development*


  • DNA, Bacterial
  • Nitrites
  • Nitrate Reductase