Applied and environmental microbiology

Metabolic pathway involved in 2-methyl-6-ethylaniline degradation by Sphingobium sp. strain MEA3-1 and cloning of the novel flavin-dependent monooxygenase system meaBA.

PMID 26386060


2-Methyl-6-ethylaniline (MEA) is the main microbial degradation intermediate of the chloroacetanilide herbicides acetochlor and metolachlor. Sphingobium sp. strain MEA3-1 can utilize MEA and various alkyl-substituted aniline and phenol compounds as sole carbon and energy sources for growth. We isolated the mutant strain MEA3-1Mut, which converts MEA only to 2-methyl-6-ethyl-hydroquinone (MEHQ) and 2-methyl-6-ethyl-benzoquinone (MEBQ). MEA may be oxidized by the P450 monooxygenase system to 4-hydroxy-2-methyl-6-ethylaniline (4-OH-MEA), which can be hydrolytically spontaneously deaminated to MEBQ or MEHQ. The MEA microbial metabolic pathway was reconstituted based on the substrate spectra and identification of the intermediate metabolites in both the wild-type and mutant strains. Plasmidome sequencing indicated that both strains harbored 7 plasmids with sizes ranging from 6,108 bp to 287,745 bp. Among the 7 plasmids, 6 were identical, and pMEA02' in strain MEA3-1Mut lost a 37,000-bp fragment compared to pMEA02 in strain MEA3-1. Two-dimensional electrophoresis (2-DE) and protein mass fingerprinting (PMF) showed that MEA3-1Mut lost the two-component flavin-dependent monooxygenase (TC-FDM) MeaBA, which was encoded by a gene in the lost fragment of pMEA02. MeaA shared 22% to 25% amino acid sequence identity with oxygenase components of some TC-FDMs, whereas MeaB showed no sequence identity with the reductase components of those TC-FDMs. Complementation with meaBA in MEA3-1Mut and heterologous expression in Pseudomonas putida strain KT2440 resulted in the production of an active MEHQ monooxygenase.

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