The activity of ferredoxin: NADP+ reductase (FNR) was found to decline to approximately 20% maximal levels with little or no loss in enzyme levels when cultures of the cyanobacterium Anabaena variabilis were maintained in the stationary phase of growth. Re-activation of enzyme activity occurred when cells were diluted into either fresh or re-utilized media and illuminated. This reversible de-activation/re-activation process was found, in vivo, to be dependent on the intensity of light illuminating the cells. The de-activated form of FNR was purified to homogeneity and exhibited the same molecular mass, isoelectric-focusing pattern and N-terminal amino acid sequence as the native form. Both de-activated and native FNR preparations each exhibited three reactive thiol groups on denaturation in urea; however, the rate of reaction with Ellman's reagent was much faster with the de-activated form than with the native form. Both preparations contain a single disulphide bond. Upon reduction of the disulphide bond in either form of the enzyme, the five reactive thiol groups exhibited identical reactivities in the presence of urea. Steady-state kinetic analysis of the de-activated form showed a marked increase in Km values for NADPH in diaphorase assays and an increase in Km for ferredoxin in the ferredoxin-mediated reduction of cytochrome c. No significant difference in kcat. was observed in comparison of the de-activated with the native form in any of the above assays; however, the de-activated form did exhibit a lower kcat. value in the transhydrogenase assay. The de-activated form of FNR bound ferredoxin with a 16-fold lower affinity than the native enzyme. These data suggest that the de-activation of FNR in vivo in response to low light intensity involves an alteration in protein structure, possibly via an intramolecular thiol disulphide interchange, which influences the interaction of the enzyme with its substrates.
- © 1991 The Biochemical Society, London