In wild-type Azorhizobium caulinodans ORS571, nicotinate served both as anabolic substrate for NAD+ production and as catabolic substrate for use as the N source. Catabolic enzyme activities were greatest from cultures grown with nicotinate as the N source and least when cultures were grown with ammonium as the N source. Vector insertion mutants unable to catabolize nicotinate (nic::Vi mutants) still required micromolar quantities of this compound for growth. Therefore, A. caulinodans wild type is NAD+ auxotrophic. As the first two intermediates in A. caulinodans nicotinate catabolism, two cyclic compounds, 6-hydroxynicotinate and 1,4,5,6-tetrahydro-6-oxonicotinate, were identified. These compounds were purified from the growth medium of strain 61009 (a nic::Vi mutant) by high-performance liquid chromatography; their identities were subsequently confirmed by UV absorbance, nuclear magnetic resonance, and mass spectra. The conversion of 1 mol of nicotinate to 6-hydroxynicotinate consumed 0.5 mol of O2. From 18O isotopic incorporation experiments, water was the hydroxyl-equivalent source. A nicotinate hydroxylase activity proved to be cell wall-membrane associated; this activity served as direct electron donor (not indirect via NADP+) to O2 via membrane electron transport. These catabolic reactions have not previously been witnessed together in the same organism. A. caulinodans nicotinate catabolism seems coupled to N2 fixation, although the explicit mechanism of this coupling remains to be determined.



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