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The Escherichia coli Fumarate-Nitrate Reduction regulator (FNR) protein is the paradigm for bacterial O2-sensing transcription factors. However, unlike E. coli, some bacterial species possess multiple FNR proteins that presumably have evolved to fulfill distinct roles. Here, three FNR proteins (ANR, PP_3233 and PP_3287) from a single bacterial species, Pseudomonas putida KT2440, have been analyzed. Under anaerobic conditions, all three proteins had spectral properties resembling those of [4Fe-4S] proteins. The reactivity of the ANR [4Fe-4S] cluster with O2 was similar to that of E. coli FNR and during conversion to the apo-protein, via a [2Fe-2S] intermediate, cluster sulfur was retained. Like ANR, reconstituted PP_3233 and PP_3287 were converted to [2Fe-2S] forms when exposed to O2, but their [4Fe-4S] clusters reacted more slowly. Transcription from an FNR-dependent promoter with a consensus FNR-binding site in P. putida and E. coli strains expressing only one FNR protein was consistent with the in vitro responses to O2. Taken together the experimental results suggest that the local environments of the iron-sulfur clusters in the different P. putida FNR proteins influence their reactivity with O2, such that ANR resembles E. coli FNR and is highly-responsive to low concentrations of O2, whereas PP_3233 and PP_3287 have evolved to be less sensitive to O2.
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