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The Sakaguchi Reaction Product Quenches Phycobilisome Fluorescence, Allowing Determination of the Arginine Concentration in Cells of Anabaena Strain PCC 7120

Ke, Shan, Haselkorn, Robert
Journal of bacteriology 2013 v.195 no.1 pp. 25-28
Anabaena, ammonia, arginine, aspartic acid, bacteriology, fluorescence, glutamic acid, glutamine, nitrogen, phycobiliprotein, polymers, vegetative cells
The filamentous cyanobacterium Anabaena fixes nitrogen in specialized cells called heterocysts. The immediate product of fixation, ammonia, is known to be assimilated by addition to glutamate to make glutamine. How fixed nitrogen is transported along the filament to the 10 to 20 vegetative cells that separate heterocysts is unknown. N-fixing heterocysts accumulate an insoluble polymer containing aspartate and arginine at the cell poles. Lockau's group has proposed that the polymer is degraded at the poles to provide a mobile carrier, arginine, to the vegetative cells (R. Richter, M. Hejazi, R. Kraft, K. Ziegler, and W. Lockau, Eur. J. Biochem. 263:163–169, 1999). We wished to use the Sakaguchi reaction for arginine to determine the relative cellular concentration of arginine along the filament. At present, the methods for measuring absorption of the Sakaguchi reaction product at 520 nm are insufficiently sensitive for that purpose. However, that product quenches the fluorescence of phycobiliproteins, which we have adapted to a determination of arginine. Our results are consistent with the proposal that arginine is a principal nitrogen carrier from heterocysts to vegetative cells in Anabaena.