Nitric oxide is an obligate bacterial nitrification intermediate produced by hydroxylamine oxidoreductase [Biochemistry]
Ammonia (NH3)-oxidizing bacteria (AOB) emit substantial amounts of nitric oxide (NO) and nitrous oxide (N2O), both of which contribute to the harmful environmental side effects of large-scale agriculture. The currently accepted model for AOB metabolism involves NH3 oxidation to nitrite (NO2–) via a single obligate intermediate, hydroxylamine (NH2OH). Within this model, the multiheme enzyme hydroxylamine oxidoreductase (HAO) catalyzes the four-electron oxidation of NH2OH to NO2–. We provide evidence that HAO oxidizes NH2OH by only three electrons to NO under both anaerobic and aerobic conditions. NO2– observed in HAO activity assays is a nonenzymatic product resulting from the oxidation of NO by O2 under aerobic conditions. Our present study implies that aerobic NH3 oxidation by AOB occurs via two obligate intermediates, NH2OH and NO, necessitating a mediator of the third enzymatic step.
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