Resolving the contributions of the membrane-bound and periplasmic nitrate reductase systems to nitric oxide and nitrous oxide production in Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium

Gary Rowley, Daniela Hensen, Heather Felgate, Anke Arkenberg, Corinne Appia-Ayme, Karen Prior, Carl Harrington, Sarah J. Field, Julea N. Butt, Elizabeth Baggs, David J. Richardson

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The production of cytotoxic nitric oxide (NO) and conversion into the neuropharmacological agent and potent greenhouse gas nitrous oxide (N2O) is linked with anoxic nitrate catabolism by Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium. Salmonella can synthesize two types of nitrate reductase: a membrane-bound form (Nar) and a periplasmic form (Nap). Nitrate catabolism was studied under nitrate-rich and nitrate-limited conditions in chemostat cultures following transition from oxic to anoxic conditions. Intracellular NO production was reported qualitatively by assessing transcription of the NO-regulated genes encoding flavohaemoglobin (Hmp), flavorubredoxin (NorV) and hybrid cluster protein (Hcp). A more quantitative analysis of the extent of NO formation was gained by measuring production of N2O, the end-product of anoxic NO-detoxification. Under nitrate-rich conditions, the nor, nap, Amp, norV and hcp genes were all induced following transition from the oxic to anoxic state, and 20% of nitrate consumed in steady-state was released as N2O when nitrite had accumulated to millimolar levels. The kinetics of nitrate consumption, nitrite accumulation and N2O production were similar to those of wild-type in nitrate-sufficient cultures of a nap mutant. In contrast, in a narG mutant, the steady-state rate of N2O production was similar to 30-fold lower than that of the wildtype. Under nitrate-limited conditions, nap, but not nar, was up-regulated following transition from oxic to anoxic metabolism and very little N2O production was observed. Thus a combination of nitrate-sufficiency, nitrite accumulation and an active Nar-type nitrate reductase leads to NO and thence N2O production, and this can account for up to 20% of the nitrate catabolized.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)755-762
Number of pages8
JournalBiochemical Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jan 2012


  • Enterobacteriaceae
  • nitrate reductase
  • nitric oxide
  • nitrite reductase
  • nitrous oxide
  • Salmonella
  • Escherichia-Coli K-12
  • operon expression
  • NAPF
  • bacteria
  • protein
  • NSRR
  • metabolism
  • regulator
  • encode
  • growth

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