In response to environmental conditions, NO (nitric oxide) induces global changes in the cellular metabolism of Pseudomonas aeruginosa, which are strictly related to pathogenesis. In particular, at low oxygen tensions and in the presence of NO the denitrification alternative respiration is activated by a key regulator: DNR (dissimilative nitrate respiration regulator). DNR belongs to the CRP (cAMP receptor protein)–FNR (fumarate and nitrate reductase regulatory protein) superfamily of bacterial transcription factors. These regulators are involved in many different pathways and distinct activation mechanism seems to be operative in several cases. Recent results indicate that DNR is a haem protein capable of discriminating between NO and CO (carbon monoxide). On the basis of the available structural data, a suggested activation mechanism is discussed.

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