Structural genes for the vanadium nitrogenase from Azotobacter chroococcum.
Structural genes for the VFe-protein (Ac1V) of the vanadium nitrogenase from Azotobacter chroococcum were cloned and sequenced. The VFe-protein contains three subunit types with Mr of 53,793 (alpha), 52,724 (beta) and 13,274 (delta). alpha and beta subunits show 18 and 15% sequence identity respectively, with alpha and beta subunits of the MoFe-protein of A.chroococcum molybdenum nitrogenase. The genes for the three subunits vnfD (alpha), vnfG (delta) and vnfK (beta) are contiguous and form an operon whose transcription is repressed in response to ammonia. The Fe-protein component of the V-nitrogenase (Ac2V) is the product of nifH* that we have previously cloned and sequenced. This gene was located 2.5 kb upstream of vnfD. A deletion in the vnfD, G and K gene cluster prevents V-dependent nitrogen fixation. A strain defective in both V-nitrogenase and Mo-nitrogenase structural genes showed no residual nitrogen fixing capacity arguing against the presence of a third nitrogen fixation system in this organism.