Modulation of nitrate reductase in vivo and in vitro: Effects of phosphoprotein phosphatase inhibitors, free Mg2+ and 5′-AMP

Werner M. Kaiser, Steve Huber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Nitrate reductase in spinach (Spinacia oleracea L.) leaves was rapidly inactivated in the dark and reactivated by light, whereas in pea (Pisum sativum L.), roots, hyperoxic conditions caused inactivation, and anoxia caused reactivation. Reactivation in vivo, both in leaves and roots, was prohibited by high concentrations (10-30 μM) of the serine/threonine-protein phosphatase inhibitors okadaic acid or calyculin, consistent with the notion that protein dephosphorylation catalyzed by type-1 or type-2A phosphatases was the mechanism for the reactivation of NADH-nitrate reductase (NR). Following inactivation of leaf NR in vivo, spontaneous reactivation in vitro (in desalted extracts) was slow, but was drastically accelerated by removal of Mg2+ with excess ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA), or by desalting in a buffer devoid of Mg2+. Subsequent addition of either Mg2+, Mn2+ or Ca2+ inhibited the activation of NR in vitro. Reactivation of NR (at pH 7.5) in vitro in the presence of Mg2+ was also accelerated by millimolar concentrations of AMP or other nucleoside monophosphates. The EDTA-mediated reactivation in desalted crude extracts was completely prevented by protein-phosphatase inhibitors whereas the AMP-mediated reaction was largely unaffected by these toxins. The Mg2+-response profile of the AMP-accelerated reactivation suggested that okadaic acid, calyculin and microcystin-LR were rather ineffective inhibitors in the presence of divalent cations. However, with partially purified enzyme preparations (5-15% polyethyleneglycol fraction) the AMPmediated reactivation was also inhibited (65-80%) by microcystin-LR. Thus, the dephosphorylation (activation) of NR in vitro is inhibited by divalent cations, and protein phosphatases of the PP1 or PP2A type are involved in both the EDTA and AMP-stimulated reactions. Evidence was also obtained that divalent cations may regulate NR-protein phosphatase activity in vivo. When spinach leaf slices were incubated in Mg2+ -and Ca2+-free buffer solutions in the dark, extracted NR was inactive. After addition of the Ca2+ /Mg2+-ionophore A 23187 plus EDTA to the leaf slices, NR was activated in the dark. It was again inactivated upon addition of divalent cations (Mg2+ or Ca2+). It is tentatively suggested that Mg2+ fulfills several roles in the regulatory system of NR: it is required for active NR-protein kinase, it inactivates the protein phosphatase and is, at the same time, necessary to keep phospho-NR in the inactive state. The EDTA- and AMP-mediated reactivation of NR in vitro had different pH optima, suggesting that two different protein phosphatases may be involved. At pH 6.5, the activation of NR was relatively slow and the addition or removal of Mg2+ had no effect. However, 5′-AMP was a potent activator of the reaction with an apparent Km of 0.5 mM. There was also considerable specificity for 5′AMP relative to 3′- or 2′-AMP or other nucleoside monophoposphates. We conclude that, depending upon conditions, the signals triggering NR modulation in vivo could be either metabolic (e.g. 5′-AMP) or physical (e.g. cytosolic [Mg2+]) in nature.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)358-364
Number of pages7
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 1994
Externally publishedYes


  • AMP
  • Cation (divalent)
  • Nitrate reductase
  • Pisum
  • Protein phosphatase
  • Spinacia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Plant Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Modulation of nitrate reductase in vivo and in vitro: Effects of phosphoprotein phosphatase inhibitors, free Mg2+ and 5′-AMP'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this