The NapF protein of the Escherichia coli periplasmic nitrate reductase system: demonstration of the cytoplasmic location and interaction with the catalytic subunit, NapA

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


  • Arjaree Nilavongse
  • DJ Richardson
  • E Leach

Colleges, School and Institutes


The periplasmic nitrate reductase of Escherichia coli is important during anaerobic growth in low-nitrate environments. The nap operon encoding this nitrate reductase comprises seven genes including a gene, napF, that encodes a putative cytoplasmic iron-sulphur protein of uncertain subcellular location and function. In this study, N-terminal sequence analysis, cell fractionation coupled with immunoblotting and construction of LacZ and PhoA fusion proteins were used together to establish that NapF is located in the E. coli cytoplasm. A bacterial two-hybrid protein-protein interaction system was used to demonstrate that NapF interacted in the cytoplasm with the terminal oxidoreductase NapA, but that it did not self-associate or interact with other electron-transport components of the Nap system, NapC, NapG or NapH, or with another cytoplasmic component, NapD. NapF, purified as a His(6)-tagged protein, exhibited spectral properties characteristic of an iron-sulphur protein. This protein was able to pull down NapA from soluble extracts of E. coli. A growth-based assay for NapF function in intact cell cultures was developed and applied to assess the effect of mutation of a number of conserved amino acids. It emerged that neither a highly conserved N-terminal double-arginine motif, nor a conserved proline motif, is essential for NapF-dependent growth. The combined data indicate that NapF plays one or more currently unidentified roles in the post-translational modification of NapA prior to the export of folded NapA via the twin-arginine translocation pathway into the periplasm.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3227-3237
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2006