The Klebsiella pneumoniae nitrogen fixation (nif) mRNAs are unusually stable, with half-lives of 20 to 30 min under conditions favorable to nitrogen fixation (limiting nitrogen, anaerobiosis, temperatures of 30°C). Addition of O2 or fixed nitrogen or temperature increases to 37°C or more result in the dramatic destabilization of the nif mRNAs, decreasing the half- lives by a factor of 3 to 5. A plasmid expression system, independent of nif transcriptional regulation, was used to define cis determinants required for the regulated stability of the 5.2-kb nifHDKTY mRNA and to test the model suggested by earlier work that NifA is required in trans to stabilize nif mRNA under nif-derepressing conditions. O2 regulation of nifHDKTY mRNA stability is impaired in a plasmid containing a deletion of a 499-bp region of nifH, indicating that a site(s) required for the O2-regulated stability of the mRNA is located within this region. The simple model suggested from earlier work that NifA is required for stabilizing nif mRNA under conditions favorable for nitrogen fixation was disproved, and in its place, a more complicated model involving the sensing of nitrogenase activity as a component of the system regulating mRNA stability is proposed. Analysis of nifY mutants and overexpression suggests a possible involvement of the protein in this sensing process.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology