Nitrogen fixation activity in the photosynthetic bacterium Rhodospirillum rubrum is controlled by the reversible ADP-ribosylation of the dinitrogenase reductase component of the nitrogenase enzyme complex. This report describes the cloning and characterization of the genes encoding the ADP-ribosyltransferase (draT) and the ADP-ribosylglycohydrolase (draG) involved in this regulation. These genes are shown to be contiguous on the R. rubrum chromosome and highly linked to the nifHDK genes. Sequence analysis revealed the use of TTG as the initiation codon of the draT gene as well as a potential open reading frame immediately downstream of draG. The mono-ADP-ribosylation system in R. rubrum is the first in which both the target protein and modifying enzymes as well as their structural genes have been isolated, making it the model system of choice for analysis of this post-translational regulatory mechanism.
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