Mol Microbiol 2007 Jan;63(2):575-90
Department of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, University of Sheffield, Western Bank, Sheffield, S10 2TN, UK.
Pathways of electron transport to periplasmic nitrate (NapA) and nitrite (NrfA) reductases have been investigated in Campylobacter jejuni, a microaerophilic food-borne pathogen. The nap operon is unusual in lacking napC (encoding a tetra-haem c-type cytochrome) and napF, but contains a novel gene of unknown function, napL. The iron-sulphur protein NapG has a major role in electron transfer to the NapAB complex, but we show that slow nitrate-dependent growth of a napG mutant can be sustained by electron transfer from NrfH, the electron donor to the nitrite reductase NrfA. A napL mutant possessed approximately 50% lower NapA activity than the wild type but showed normal growth with nitrate as the electron acceptor. NrfA was constitutive and was shown to play a role in protection against nitrosative stress in addition to the previously identified NO-inducible single domain globin, Cgb. However, nitrite also induced cgb expression in an NssR-dependent manner, suggesting that growth of C. jejuni with nitrite causes nitrosative stress. This was confirmed by lack of growth of cgb and nssR mutants, and slow growth of the nrfA mutant, in media containing nitrite. Thus, NrfA and Cgb together provide C. jejuni with constitutive and inducible components of a robust defence against nitrosative stress.