Nitrite reductase was purified between 760- and 1300-fold from vegetable marrow (Cucurbita pepo L.) and residual hydroxylamine reductase activity was low or negligible by comparison. With ferredoxin as electron donor, nitrite loss and ammonia formation at pH7.5 were stoicheiometrically equivalent. Crude nitrite reductase preparations showed negligible activity with NADPH as electron donor maintained in the reduced state by glucose 6-phosphate, whereas by comparison, activity was high when either ferredoxin or benzyl viologen were also present and reduced by the NADPH–glucose 6-phosphate system, whereas FMNH2 produced variable and relatively low activity under the same conditions. At pH values below 7, non-enzymic reactions occurred between reduced benzyl viologen and nitrite, and intermediate reduction products were inferred to be produced instead of ammonia. Activity with ferredoxin (0.1mm), reduced by chloroplast grana in the light, was 25 times that produced with ferredoxin (40μm) reduced with NADPH and glucose 6-phosphate. For an approximate molecular weight 61000–63000 derived by chromatography on Sephadex G-100 and G-200, and a specific activity of 46μmol of nitrite reduced/min per mg of protein with light and chloroplast grana, a minimum turnover number of 3×103mol of nitrite reduced/min per mol of enzyme was found. Two hydroxylamine reductases were separated on Sephadex gels. One (HR1) was initially associated with nitrite reductase during gel filtration but disappeared during later fractionation. This HR1 fraction showed nearly comparable activity with reduced benzyl viologen, ferredoxin or FMNH2. The other (HR2), of molecular weight approx. 35000, reacted with reduced benzyl viologen but showed negligible activity with ferredoxin or NADPH. Activity with FMNH2 was associated with an irregular trailing boundary during gel filtration, with much diminished activity in the HR2 region. Activity with NADPH was about 30% of that with FMNH2, reduced benzyl viologen or ferredoxin and was considered to reside in fraction HR1. Hydroxylamine yielded ammonia under all assay conditions. No activity with hyponitrite or sulphite was observed with reduced benzyl viologen as electron donor in either the nitrite reductase or the hydroxylamine reductase systems, but pyruvic oxime produced about 4% of the activity of hydroxylamine.

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