Nitrogen fixation occurs in two major processes, the industrial haber bosch process and fixation via a biological enzyme called nitrogenase. The haber bosch process is how most nitrogen used in agriculture is converted into ammonia. However, one major drawback is that this process requires a lot of fossil fuels and is thereby not an environmentally friendly process. With nitrogenase, the enzyme converts dinitrogen into ammonia using biological energy in the form of ATP, making nitrogen fixation a more biologically friendly process. Carbon Monoxide is known to inhibit the function of nitrogenase, meaning that under conditions where CO is present, nitrogen fixation is unable to occur. In order to prevent CO inhibition, cells containing nitrogenase must find a way to avoid these inhibitory conditions. It was found that Nitrogenase seems to be protected by another protein, CowN. This poster describes the mechanism by which CowN protects Nitrogenase. Specifically, CowN binds to either the entrance to a proposed CO channel or near the active site of nitrogenase. Both potential CowN binding locations could prevent CO from reaching the active site and therefore enable nitrogenase to avoid inhibition by CO.
Wong, Emily; Lee, Terrence; and Owens, Cedric P., "Protein Protection: Characterizing how CowN Protects Nitrogenase" (2021). Student Scholar Symposium Abstracts and Posters. 439.