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Journal of bacteriology

Heterologous expression and identification of the genes involved in anaerobic degradation of 1,3-dihydroxybenzene (resorcinol) in Azoarcus anaerobius.


PMID 17369298

Abstract

Azoarcus anaerobius, a strictly anaerobic, gram-negative bacterium, utilizes resorcinol as a sole carbon and energy source with nitrate as an electron acceptor. Previously, we showed that resorcinol degradation by this bacterium is initiated by two oxidative steps, both catalyzed by membrane-associated enzymes that lead to the formation of hydroxyhydroquinone (HHQ; 1,2,4-benzenetriol) and 2-hydroxy-1,4-benzoquinone (HBQ). This study presents evidence for the further degradation of HBQ in cell extracts to form acetic and malic acids. To identify the A. anaerobius genes required for anaerobic resorcinol catabolism, a cosmid library with genomic DNA was constructed and transformed into the phylogenetically related species Thauera aromatica, which cannot grow with resorcinol. By heterologous complementation, a transconjugant was identified that gained the ability to metabolize resorcinol. Its cosmid, designated R(+), carries a 29.88-kb chromosomal DNA fragment containing 22 putative genes. In cell extracts of T. aromatica transconjugants, resorcinol was degraded to HHQ, HBQ, and acetate, suggesting that cosmid R(+) carried all of the genes necessary for resorcinol degradation. On the basis of the physiological characterization of T. aromatica transconjugants carrying transposon insertions in different genes of cosmid R(+), eight open reading frames were found to be essential for resorcinol mineralization. Resorcinol hydroxylase-encoding genes were assigned on the basis of sequence analysis and enzyme assays with two mutants. Putative genes for hydroxyhydroquinone dehydrogenase and enzymes involved in ring fission have also been proposed. This work provides the first example of the identification of genes involved in the anaerobic degradation of aromatic compounds by heterologous expression of a cosmid library in a phylogenetically related organism.

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