Bradyrhizobium japonicum is a Gram-negative soil bacterium symbiotically associated with soya bean plants, which is also able to denitrify under free-living and symbiotic conditions. In B. japonicum, the napEDABC, nirK, norCBQD and nosRZDYFLX genes which encode reductases for nitrate, nitrite, nitric oxide and nitrous oxide respectively are required for denitrification. Similar to many other denitrifiers, expression of denitrification genes in B. japonicum requires both oxygen limitation and the presence of nitrate or a derived nitrogen oxide. In B. japonicum, a sophisticated regulatory network consisting of two linked regulatory cascades co-ordinates the expression of genes required for microaerobic respiration (the FixLJ/FixK2 cascade) and for nitrogen fixation (the RegSR/NifA cascade). The involvement of the FixLJ/FixK2 regulatory cascade in the microaerobic induction of the denitrification genes is well established. In addition, the FNR (fumarase and nitrate reduction regulator)/CRP(cAMP receptor protein)-type regulator NnrR expands the FixLJ/FixK2 regulatory cascade by an additional control level. A role for NifA is suggested in this process by recent experiments which have shown that it is required for full expression of denitrification genes in B. japonicum. The present review summarizes the current understanding of the regulatory network of denitrification in B. japonicum.

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