Characterization of NARJ: A molecular chaperone involved in assembly of nitrate reductase

Xiaoling Liu, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston


The major goal of this work was to define the role of accessory protein, NARJ, in assembly of nitrate reductase which is a membrane-bound multisubunit enzyme that can catalyze the reduction of nitrate to nitrite under anaerobic growth in E. coli. Nitrate reductase is encoded by the nar GHJI operon under control of the narG promoter. The purified nitrate reductase is composed of three subunits: $\alpha,\ \beta,$ and $\gamma.$ The NARJ protein which is encoded by the third gene (narJ) is not found to be associated with any of the purified preparations of the enzyme, but is required for active nitrate reductase. In this study the product of the narJ gene was identified. NARJ appeared to be produced at a reduced level, compared to the other proteins encoded by the nar operon. Since NARJ could not be overexpressed to a level for an efficient purification, NARJ was expressed and purified as a recombinant protein with polyhistidine tag. The recombinant protein NARJ-6His could functionally replace native NARJ. Purified NARJ-6His is a dimeric protein which contains no identifiable cofactors or unique secondary structure. NARJ was localized in the cytoplasm, and was not associated with nitrate reductase in the membrane. In vivo NARJ activated the $\alpha\beta$ complex and stabilized the $\alpha$ subunit against protease degradation. In the absence of the membrane-bound $\gamma$ subunit, NARJ formed an intermediate complex with $\alpha\beta$ in the cytosol. Based on these studies, NARJ fits the formal definition of a molecular chaperone. It appears to be required only for the biogenesis of nitrate reductase and, therefore, is defined as a private chaperone specifically involved in the assembly of nitrate reductase system.

Subject Area

Molecular biology|Biochemistry

Recommended Citation

Liu, Xiaoling, "Characterization of NARJ: A molecular chaperone involved in assembly of nitrate reductase" (1996). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI9717014.