In the filamentous, heterocyst-forming cyanobacterium Anabaena sp. strain PCC 7120, the glnB gene is expressed at considerable levels both in the presence and in the absence of combined nitrogen, although induction, influenced by NtcA, takes place upon combined-nitrogen deprivation likely localized to vegetative cells. In spite of extensive efforts, a derivative of PCC 7120 lacking a functional glnB gene could be obtained only with constructs that lead to overexpression of a downstream open reading frames (ORF), particularly all2318. Strain CSP10 [glnB all2318(Con)] exhibited growth rates similar to those of the wild type when it was using nitrate or ammonium, but its diazotrophic growth was impaired. However, it differentiated heterocysts with a time course and distribution pattern similar to those of the wild type, although with no cyanophycin-containing polar granules, and exhibited impaired nitrogenase activity under oxic conditions, but not under microoxic conditions. In the mutant, NtcA-dependent inducion of the hetC and nifH genes was unaltered, but induction of the urtA gene and urea transport activity were increased. Active uptake of nitrite was also increased and insensitive to the ammonium-promoted inhibition observed for the wild type. Thus, regulation of the nitrite transport activity requires the glnB gene product. In the presence of a wild-type glnB gene, neither inactivation nor overexpression of all2318 produced an apparent phenotype. Thus, in an otherwise wild-type background, the glnB gene appears to be essential for growth of strain PCC 7120. For growth with combined nitrogen but not for diazotrophic growth, the requirement for glnB can be overridden by increasing the expression of all2318 (and/or ORFs downstream of it)
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