The accumulation of 99Mo (from 99MoO4(2-) into molybdenum-containing species in Clostridium pasteurianum was investigated to identify the molybdoprotein(s) involved in Mo metabolism. Mo accumulation by clostridial cells during the derepression of the nitrogenase system increased substantially beginning 1.5 h before nitrogenase activity was detected. The increase in Mo accumulation by the cells is a result of the incorporation of Mo into a high-molecular-weight molybdenum species (suspected membrane fragments), a low-molecular-weight molybdenum species, a Mo binding-storage protein, a 30-kilodalton molybdoprotein, and formate dehydrogenase. Mo incorporation into the MoFe protein was detected 1 h after the onset of metal uptake. Kinetics of Mo accumulation into the molybdoproteins during the derepression of nitrogenase suggests that Mo incorporation or uptake or both occur in the following sequence: (i) membranes and MoO4(2-), (ii) a low-molecular-weight molybdenum species, (iii) Mo binding-storage protein and a 30-kilodalton molybdoprotein, (iv) formate dehydrogenase, and (v) the MoFe protein. The intracellular level of all molybdenum components except the MoFe protein appears to be influenced by the availability of Mo. Clostridial cells grown in the presence of a limiting amount of Mo became Mo deficient as a result of growth and a MoO4(2-) supplement added to such cells rapidly accumulated within the cells to levels five times that found in steady-state nitrogen-fixing cells. The Mo accumulated by the Mo-deficient cells was rapidly incorporated into preformed demolybdoproteins in the absence of de novo protein synthesis. The increase in Mo accumulation by Mo-deficient cells was a result of an increase in all molybdoproteins except the MoFe protein
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