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Keyword - Heterocyst (KW-0364)


Protein which is implicated in heterocyst formation. A heterocyst is a differentiated cyanobacterial cell that carries out nitrogen fixation. The heterocysts function as the sites for nitrogen fixation under aerobic conditions. They are formed in response to a lack of fixed nitrogen (NH4 or NO3). The morphological differentiation is accompanied by biochemical alterations. The mature heterocysts contain no functional photosystem II and cannot produce oxygen. Instead, they contain only photosystem I, which enables them to carry out cyclic photophosphorylation and ATP regeneration. These changes provide the appropriate conditions for the functioning of the oxygen-sensitive nitrogenase.


Developmental stage

Gene Ontology


heterocyst differentiation [ GO:0043158 ]


HeterocystDevelopmental stage
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