Metabolic regulation including anaerobic metabolism in Paracoccus denitrificans

J Bioenerg Biomembr. 1991 Apr;23(2):163-85. doi: 10.1007/BF00762216.


Under anaerobic circumstances in the presence of nitrate Paracoccus denitrificans is able to denitrify. The properties of the reductases involved in nitrate reductase, nitrite reductase, nitric oxide reductase, and nitrous oxide reductase are described. For that purpose not only the properties of the enzymes of P. denitrificans are considered but also those from Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Pseudomonas stutzeri. Nitrate reductase consists of three subunits: the alpha subunit contains the molybdenum cofactor, the beta subunit contains the iron sulfur clusters, and the gamma subunit is a special cytochrome b. Nitrate is reduced at the cytoplasmic side of the membrane and evidence for the presence of a nitrate-nitrite antiporter is presented. Electron flow is from ubiquinol via the specific cytochrome b to the nitrate reductase. Nitrite reductase (which is identical to cytochrome cd1) and nitrous oxide reductase are periplasmic proteins. Nitric oxide reductase is a membrane-bound enzyme. The bc1 complex is involved in electron flow to these reductases and the whole reaction takes place at the periplasmic side of the membrane. It is now firmly established that NO is an obligatory intermediate between nitrite and nitrous oxide. Nitrous oxide reductase is a multi-copper protein. A large number of genes is involved in the acquisition of molybdenum and copper, the formation of the molybdenum cofactor, and the insertion of the metals. It is estimated that at least 40 genes are involved in the process of denitrification. The control of the expression of these genes in P. denitrificans is totally unknown. As an example of such complex regulatory systems the function of the fnr, narX, and narL gene products in the expression of nitrate reductase in E. coli is described. The control of the effects of oxygen on the reduction of nitrate, nitrite, and nitrous oxide are discussed. Oxygen inhibits reduction of nitrate by prevention of nitrate uptake in the cell. In the case of nitrite and nitrous oxide a competition between reductases and oxidases for a limited supply of electrons from primary dehydrogenases seems to play an important role. Under some circumstances NO formed from nitrite may inhibit oxidases, resulting in a redistribution of electron flow from oxygen to nitrite. P. denitrificans contains three main oxidases: cytochrome aa3, cytochrome o, and cytochrome co. Cytochrome o is proton translocating and receives its electrons from ubiquinol. Some properties of cytochrome co, which receives its electrons from cytochrome c, are reported.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anaerobiosis
  • Electron Transport
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial
  • Nitrates / metabolism
  • Nitrites / metabolism
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Oxidoreductases / metabolism
  • Paracoccus denitrificans / enzymology
  • Paracoccus denitrificans / genetics
  • Paracoccus denitrificans / metabolism*


  • Nitrates
  • Nitrites
  • Oxidoreductases