The metabolism of inorganic nitrogen compounds was studied in extracts of Penicillium atrovenetum which had been grown under conditions in which β-nitropropionic acid (BNP) synthesis varied from 0 to 12.5 μmoles per ml. None of the extracts was able to oxidize ammonium ion or nitrite. An enzyme was detected which catalyzed the oxidation of hydroxylamine with cytochrome c as the electron acceptor. The activity of this enzyme was not related to the ability of the organism to produce BNP. Nitrate and nitrite reductase activities were detected only in P. atrovenetum cultures grown on nitrate as a nitrogen source. These results indicated that BNP synthesis is probably not directly associated with the metabolism of inorganic nitrogen compounds and that an organic pathway for the formation of the nitro group is more likely. The activities of certain enzymes related to the metabolism of aspartic acid were investigated. Aspartate ammonia-lyase activity could not be detected in P. atrovenetum extracts. Aspartate aminotransferase and glutamate dehydrogenase activities were found in the extracts but were highest in the cultures which did not produce BNP. β-Nitroacrylic acid reductase activity was highest in extracts of cultures which were actively synthesizing BNP
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