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Pseudomonas putida F1 utilizes p-cumate (p-isopropylbenzoate) as a growth substrate by means of an eight-step catabolic pathway. A 35.75-kb DNA segment, within which the cmt operon encoding the catabolism of p-cumate is located, was cloned as four separate overlapping restriction fragments and mapped with restriction endonucleases. By examining enzyme activities in recombinant bacteria carrying these fragments and sub-cloned fragments, genes encoding most of the enzymes of the p-cumate pathway were located. Subsequent sequence analysis of 11,260 bp gave precise locations of the 12 genes of the cmt operon. The first three genes, cmtAaAbAc, and the sixth gene, cmtAd, encode the components of p-cumate 2,3-dioxygenase (ferredoxin reductase, large subunit of the terminal dioxygenase, small subunit of the terminal dioxygenase, and ferredoxin, respectively); these genes are separated by cmtC, which encodes 2,3-dihydroxy-p-cumate 3,4-dioxygenase, and cmtB, coding for 2,3-dihydroxy-2,3-dihydro-p-cumate dehydrogenase. The ring cleavage product, 2-hydroxy-3-carboxy-6-oxo-7-methylocta-2,4-dienoate, is acted on by a decarboxylase encoded by the seventh gene, cmtD, which is followed by a large open reading frame, cmtI, of unknown function. The next four genes, cmtEFHG, encode 2-hydroxy-6-oxo-7-methylocta-2,4-dienoate hydrolase, 2-hydroxypenta-2,4-dienoate hydratase, 4-hydroxy-2-oxovalerate aldolase, and acetaldehyde dehydrogenase, respectively, which transform the decarboxylation product to amphibolic intermediates. The deduced amino acid sequences of all the cmt gene products except CmtD and CmtI have a recognizable but low level of identity with amino acid sequences of enzymes catalyzing analogous reactions in other catabolic pathways. This identity is highest for the last two enzymes of the pathway (4-hydroxy-2-oxovalerate aldolase and acetaldehyde dehydrogenase [acylating]), which have identities of 66 to 77% with the corresponding enzymes from other aromatic meta-cleavage pathways. Recombinant bacteria carrying certain restriction fragments bordering the cmt operon were found to transform indole to indigo. This reaction, known to be catalyzed by toluene 2,3-dioxygenase, led to the discovery that the tod operon, encoding the catabolism of toluene, is located 2.8 kb downstream from and in the same orientation as the cmt operon in P. putida F1.