The nitrilase from Pseudomonas fluorescens EBC191 converted 2-methyl-2-phenylpropionitrile, which contains a quaternary carbon atom in the α-position toward the nitrile group, and also similar sterically demanding substrates, such as 2-hydroxy-2-phenylpropionitrile (acetophenone cyanohydrin) or 2-acetyloxy-2-methylphenylacetonitrile. 2-Methyl-2-phenylpropionitrile was hydrolyzed to almost stoichiometric amounts of the corresponding acid. Acetophenone cyanohydrin was transformed to the corresponding acid (atrolactate) and amide (atrolactamide) at a ratio of about 3.4:1. The (R)-acid and the (S)-amide were formed preferentially from acetophenone cyanohydrin. A homology model of the nitrilase suggested that steric hindrance with amino acid residue Tyr54 could impair the binding or conversion of sterically demanding substrates. Therefore, several enzyme variants that carried mutations in the respective residues were generated and subsequently analyzed for the substrate specificity and enantioselectivity of the reactions. Enzyme variants that demonstrated increased relative activities for the conversion of acetophenone cyanohydrin were identified. The chiral analysis of these reactions demonstrated peculiar reaction kinetics, which suggested that the enzyme variants converted the nonpreferred (S)-enantiomer of acetophenone cyanohydrin with a higher reaction rate than that of the (preferred) (R)-enantiomer. Recombinant whole-cell catalysts that simultaneously produced the nitrilase from P. fluorescens EBC191 and a plant-derived (S)-oxynitrilase from cassava (Manihot esculenta) converted acetophenone plus cyanide at pH 4.5 to (S)-atrolactate and (S)-atrolactamide. These recombinant cells are promising catalysts for the synthesis of stable chiral quaternary carbon centers from ketones.
The arylacetonitrilase from Pseudomonas fluorescens EBC191 differs from previously studied arylacetonitrilases by its low enantiospecificity during the turnover of mandelonitrile and by the large amounts of amides that are formed in the course of this reaction. In the sequence of the nitrilase from P. fluorescens, a cysteine residue (Cys163) is present in direct neighborhood (toward the amino terminus) to the catalytic active cysteine residue, which is rather unique among bacterial nitrilases. Therefore, this cysteine residue was exchanged in the nitrilase from P. fluorescens EBC191 for various amino acid residues which are present in other nitrilases at the homologous position. The influence of these mutations on the reaction specificity and enantiospecificity was analyzed with (R,S)-mandelonitrile and (R,S)-2-phenylpropionitrile as substrates. The mutants obtained demonstrated significant differences in their amide-forming capacities. The exchange of Cys163 for asparagine or glutamine residues resulted in significantly increased amounts of amides formed. In contrast, a substitution for alanine or serine residues decreased the amounts of amides formed. The newly discovered mutation was combined with previously identified mutations which also resulted in increased amide formation. Thus, variants which possessed in addition to the mutation Cys163Asn also a deletion at the C terminus of the enzyme and/or the modification Ala165Arg were constructed. These constructs demonstrated increased amide formation capacity in comparison to the mutants carrying only single mutations. The recombinant plasmids that encoded enzyme variants which formed large amounts of mandeloamide or that formed almost stoichiometric amounts of mandelic acid from mandelonitrile were used to transform Escherichia coli strains that expressed a plant-derived (S)-hydroxynitrile lyase. The whole-cell biocatalysts obtained in this way converted benzaldehyde plus cyanide either to (S)-mandeloamide or (S)-mandelic acid with high yields and enantiopurities.
The nitrilase from Pseudomonas fluorescens EBC191 converted (R,S)-mandelonitrile with a low enantioselectivity to (R)-mandelic acid and (S)-mandeloamide in a ratio of about 4:1. In contrast, the same substrate was hydrolyzed by the homologous nitrilase from Alcaligenes faecalis ATCC 8750 almost exclusively to (R)-mandelic acid. A chimeric enzyme between both nitrilases was constructed, which represented in total 16 amino acid exchanges in the central part of the nitrilase from P. fluorescens EBC191. The chimeric enzyme clearly resembled the nitrilase from A. faecalis ATCC 8750 in its turnover characteristics for (R,S)-mandelonitrile and (R,S)-2-phenylpropionitrile (2-PPN) and demonstrated an even higher enantioselectivity for the formation of (R)-mandelic acid than the nitrilase from A. faecalis. An alanine residue (Ala165) in direct proximity to the catalytically active cysteine residue was replaced in the nitrilase from P. fluorescens by a tryptophan residue (as found in the nitrilase from A. faecalis ATCC 8750 and most other bacterial nitrilases) and several other amino acid residues. Those enzyme variants that possessed a larger substituent in position 165 (tryptophan, phenylalanine, tyrosine, or histidine) converted racemic mandelonitrile and 2-PPN to increased amounts of the R enantiomers of the corresponding acids. The enzyme variant Ala165His showed a significantly increased relative activity for mandelonitrile (compared to 2-PPN), and the opposite was found for the enzyme variants carrying aromatic residues in the relevant position. The mutant forms carrying an aromatic substituent in position 165 generally formed significantly reduced amounts of mandeloamide from mandelonitrile. The important effect of the corresponding amino acid residue on the reaction specificity and enantiospecificity of arylacetonitrilases was confirmed by the construction of a Trp164Ala variant of the nitrilase from A. faecalis ATCC 8750. This point mutation converted the highly R-specific nitrilase into an enzyme that converted (R,S)-mandelonitrile preferentially to (S)-mandeloamide.
The 4-carboxymethylen-4-sulfo-but-2-en-olide (4-sulfomuconolactone) hydrolases from Hydrogenophaga intermedia strain S1 and Agrobacterium radiobacter strain S2 are part of a modified protocatechuate pathway responsible for the degradation of 4-sulfocatechol. In both strains, the hydrolase-encoding genes occur downstream of those encoding the enzymes that catalyze the lactonization of 3-sulfomuconate. The deduced amino acid sequences of the 4-sulfomuconolactone hydrolases demonstrated the highest degree of sequence identity to 2-pyrone-4,6-dicarboxylate hydrolases, which take part in the meta cleavage pathway of protocatechuate. The 4-sulfomuconolactone hydrolases did not convert 2-pyrone-4,6-dicarboxylate, and the 2-pyrone-4,6-dicarboxylate hydrolase from Sphingomonas paucimobilis SYK-6 did not convert 4-sulfomuconolactone. Nevertheless, the presence of highly conserved histidine residues in the 4-sulfomuconolactone and the 2-pyrone-4,6-dicarboxylate hydrolases and some further sequence similarities suggested that both enzymes belong to the metallo-dependent hydrolases (the “amidohydrolase superfamily”). The 4-sulfomuconolactone hydrolases were heterologously expressed as His-tagged enzyme variants. Gel filtration experiments suggested that the enzymes are present as monomers in solution, with molecular weights of approximately 33,000 to 35,000. 4-Sulfomuconolactone was converted by sulfomuconolactone hydrolases to stoichiometric amounts of maleylacetate and sulfite. The 4-sulfomuconolactone hydrolases from both strains showed pH optima at pH 7 to 7.5 and rather similar catalytic constant (kcat/KM)values. The suggested 4-sulfocatechol pathway from 4-sulfocatechol to maleylacetate was confirmed by in situ nuclear magnetic resonance analysis using the recombinantly expressed enzymes.
A systematic survey for the presence of plasmids in 17 different xenobiotic-degrading Sphingomonas strains was performed. In almost all analyzed strains, two to five plasmids with sizes of about 50 to 500 kb were detected by using pulsed-field gel electrophoresis. A comparison of plasmid preparations untreated or treated with S1 nuclease suggested that, in general, Sphingomonas plasmids are circular. Hybridization experiments with labeled gene probes suggested that large plasmids are involved in the degradation of dibenzo-p-dioxin, dibenzofuran, and naphthalenesulfonates in S. wittichii RW1, Sphingomonas sp. HH69, and S. xenophaga BN6, respectively. The plasmids which are responsible for the degradation of naphthalene, biphenyl, and toluene by S. aromaticivorans F199 (pNL1) and of naphthalenesulfonates by S. xenophaga BN6 (pBN6) were site-specifically labeled with a kanamycin resistance cassette. The conjugative transfer of these labeled plasmids was attempted with various bacterial strains as putative recipient strains. Thus, a conjugative transfer of plasmid pBN6 from S. xenophaga BN6 to a cured mutant of strain BN6 and to Sphingomonas sp. SS3 was observed. The conjugation experiments with plasmid pNL1 suggested a broader host range of this plasmid, because it was transferred without any obvious structural changes to S. yanoikuyae B1, Sphingomonas sp. SS3, and S. herbicidovorans. In contrast, major plasmid rearrangements were observed in the transconjugants after the transfer of plasmid pNL1 to Sphingomonas sp. HH69 and of pBN6 to Sphingomonas sp. SS3. No indications for the transfer of a Sphingomonas plasmid to bacteria outside of the Sphingomonadaceae were obtained.
The gene encoding a putative nitrilase was identified in the genome sequence of the photosynthetic cyanobacterium Synechocystis sp. strain PCC6803. The gene was amplified by PCR and cloned into an expression vector. The encoded protein was heterologously expressed in the native form and as a His-tagged protein in Escherichia coli, and the recombinant strains were shown to convert benzonitrile to benzoate. The active enzyme was purified to homogeneity and shown by gel filtration to consist probably of 10 subunits. The purified nitrilase converted various aromatic and aliphatic nitriles. The highest enzyme activity was observed with fumarodinitrile, but also some rather hydrophobic aromatic (e.g., naphthalenecarbonitrile), heterocyclic (e.g., indole-3-acetonitrile), or long-chain aliphatic (di-)nitriles (e.g., octanoic acid dinitrile) were converted with higher specific activities than benzonitrile. From aliphatic dinitriles with less than six carbon atoms only 1 mol of ammonia was released per mol of dinitrile, and thus presumably the corresponding cyanocarboxylic acids formed. The purified enzyme was active in the presence of a wide range of organic solvents and the turnover rates of dodecanoic acid nitrile and naphthalenecarbonitrile were increased in the presence of water-soluble and water-immiscible organic solvents.
Quinones can function as redox mediators in the unspecific anaerobic reduction of azo compounds by various bacterial species. These quinones are enzymatically reduced by the bacteria and the resulting hydroquinones then reduce in a purely chemical redox reaction the azo compounds outside of the cells. Recently, it has been demonstrated that the addition of lawsone (2-hydroxy-1,4-naphthoquinone) to anaerobically incubated cells of Escherichia coli resulted in a pronounced increase in the reduction rates of different sulfonated and polymeric azo compounds. In the present study it was attempted to identify the enzyme system(s) responsible for the reduction of lawsone by E. coli and thus for the lawsone-dependent anaerobic azo reductase activity. An NADH-dependent lawsone reductase activity was found in the cytosolic fraction of the cells. The enzyme was purified by column chromatography and the amino-terminal amino acid sequence of the protein was determined. The sequence obtained was identical to the sequence of an oxygen-insensitive nitroreductase (NfsB) described earlier from this organism. Subsequent biochemical tests with the purified lawsone reductase activity confirmed that the lawsone reductase activity detected was identical with NfsB. In addition it was proven that also a second oxygen-insensitive nitroreductase of E. coli (NfsA) is able to reduce lawsone and thus to function under adequate conditions as quinone-dependent azo reductase.
During aerobic degradation of naphthalene-2-sulfonate (2NS), Sphingomonas xenophaga strain BN6 produces redox mediators which significantly increase the ability of the strain to reduce azo dyes under anaerobic conditions. It was previously suggested that 1,2-dihydroxynaphthalene (1,2-DHN), which is an intermediate in the degradative pathway of 2NS, is the precursor of these redox mediators. In order to analyze the importance of the formation of 1,2-DHN, the dihydroxynaphthalene dioxygenase gene (nsaC) was disrupted by gene replacement. The resulting strain, strain AKE1, did not degrade 2NS to salicylate. After aerobic preincubation with 2NS, strain AKE1 exhibited much higher reduction capacities for azo dyes under anaerobic conditions than the wild-type strain exhibited. Several compounds were present in the culture supernatants which enhanced the ability of S. xenophaga BN6 to reduce azo dyes under anaerobic conditions. Two major redox mediators were purified from the culture supernatants, and they were identified by high-performance liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry and comparison with chemically synthesized standards as 4-amino-1,2-naphthoquinone and 4-ethanolamino-1,2-naphthoquinone.
The gene coding for an aerobic azoreductase was cloned from Xenophilus azovorans KF46F (formerly Pseudomonas sp. strain KF46F), which was previously shown to grow with the carboxylated azo compound 1-(4′-carboxyphenylazo)-2-naphthol (carboxy-Orange II) as the sole source of carbon and energy. The deduced amino acid sequence encoded a protein with a molecular weight of 30,278 and showed no significant homology to amino acid sequences currently deposited at the relevant data bases. A presumed NAD(P)H-binding site was identified in the amino-terminal region of the azoreductase. The enzyme was heterologously expressed in Escherichia coli and the azoreductase activities of resting cells and cell extracts were compared. The results suggested that whole cells of the recombinant E. coli strains were unable to take up sulfonated azo dyes and therefore did not show in vivo azoreductase activity. The turnover of several industrially relevant azo dyes by cell extracts from the recombinant E. coli strain was demonstrated.
The gene for an enantioselective amidase was cloned from Rhodococcus erythropolis MP50, which utilizes various aromatic nitriles via a nitrile hydratase/amidase system as nitrogen sources. The gene encoded a protein of 525 amino acids which corresponded to a protein with a molecular mass of 55.5 kDa. The deduced complete amino acid sequence showed homology to other enantioselective amidases from different bacterial genera. The nucleotide sequence approximately 2.5 kb upstream and downstream of the amidase gene was determined, but no indications for a structural coupling of the amidase gene with the genes for a nitrile hydratase were found. The amidase gene was carried by an approximately 40-kb circular plasmid in R. erythropolis MP50. The amidase was heterologously expressed in Escherichia coli and shown to hydrolyze 2-phenylpropionamide, α-chlorophenylacetamide, and α-methoxyphenylacetamide with high enantioselectivity; mandeloamide and 2-methyl-3-phenylpropionamide were also converted, but only with reduced enantioselectivity. The recombinant E. coli strain which synthesized the amidase gene was shown to grow with organic amides as nitrogen sources. A comparison of the amidase activities observed with whole cells or cell extracts of the recombinant E. coli strain suggested that the transport of the amides into the cells becomes the rate-limiting step for amide hydrolysis in recombinant E. coli strains.
In cell extracts of Pseudaminobacter salicylatoxidans strain BN12, an enzymatic activity was detected which converted salicylate in an oxygen-dependent but NAD(P)H-independent reaction to a product with an absorbance maximum at 283 nm. This metabolite was isolated, purified, and identified by mass spectrometry and 1H and 13C nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy as 2-oxohepta-3,5-dienedioic acid. This metabolite could be formed only by direct ring fission of salicylate by a 1,2-dioxygenase reaction. Cell extracts from P. salicylatoxidans also oxidized 5-aminosalicylate, 3-, 4-, and 5-chlorosalicylate, 3-, 4-, and 5-methylsalicylate, 3- and 5-hydroxysalicylate (gentisate), and 1-hydroxy-2-naphthoate. The dioxygenase was purified and shown to consist of four identical subunits with a molecular weight of about 45,000. The purified enzyme showed higher catalytic constants with gentisate or 1-hydroxy-2-naphthoate than with salicylate. It was therefore concluded that P. salicylatoxidans synthesized a gentisate 1,2-dioxygenase with an extraordinary substrate range, which also allowed the oxidation of salicylate.
The 2,3-dihydroxybiphenyl 1,2-dioxygenase from Sphingomonas xenophaga strain BN6 (BphC1) oxidizes 3-chlorocatechol by a rather unique distal ring cleavage mechanism. In an effort to improve the efficiency of this reaction, bphC1 was randomly mutated by error-prone PCR. Mutants which showed increased activities for 3-chlorocatechol were obtained, and the mutant forms of the enzyme were shown to contain two or three amino acid substitutions. Variant enzymes containing single substitutions were constructed, and the amino acid substitutions responsible for altered enzyme properties were identified. One variant enzyme, which contained an exchanged amino acid in the C-terminal part, revealed a higher level of stability during conversion of 3-chlorocatechol than the wild-type enzyme. Two other variant enzymes contained amino acid substitutions in a region of the enzyme that is considered to be involved in substrate binding. These two variant enzymes exhibited a significantly altered substrate specificity and an about fivefold-higher reaction rate for 3-chlorocatechol conversion than the wild-type enzyme. Furthermore, these variant enzymes showed the novel capability to oxidize 3-methylcatechol and 2,3-dihydroxybiphenyl by a distal cleavage mechanism.
The genes for two different protocatechuate 3,4-dioxygenases (P34Os) were cloned from the 4-sulfocatechol-degrading bacterium Agrobacterium radiobacter strain S2 (DSMZ 5681). The pcaH1G1 genes encoded a P34O (P34O-I) which oxidized protocatechuate but not 4-sulfocatechol. These genes were part of a protocatechuate-degradative operon which strongly resembled the isofunctional operon from the protocatechuate-degrading strain Agrobacterium tumefaciens A348 described previously by D. Parke (FEMS Microbiol. Lett. 146:3–12, 1997). The second P34O (P34O-II), encoded by the pcaH2G2 genes, was functionally expressed and shown to convert protocatechuate and 4-sulfocatechol. A comparison of the deduced amino acid sequences of PcaH-I and PcaH-II, and of PcaG-I and PcaG-II, with each other and with the corresponding sequences from the P34Os, from other bacterial genera suggested that the genes for the P34O-II were obtained by strain S2 by lateral gene transfer. The genes encoding the P34O-II were found in a putative operon together with two genes which, according to sequence alignments, encoded transport proteins. Further downstream from this putative operon, two open reading frames which code for a putative regulator protein of the IclR family and a putative 3-carboxymuconate cycloisomerase were identified.
A flavin reductase, which is naturally part of the ribonucleotide reductase complex of Escherichia coli, acted in cell extracts of recombinant E. coli strains under aerobic and anaerobic conditions as an “azo reductase.” The transfer of the recombinant plasmid, which resulted in the constitutive expression of high levels of activity of the flavin reductase, increased the reduction rate for different industrially relevant sulfonated azo dyes in vitro almost 100-fold. The flavin reductase gene (fre) was transferred to Sphingomonas sp. strain BN6, a bacterial strain able to degrade naphthalenesulfonates under aerobic conditions. The flavin reductase was also synthesized in significant amounts in the Sphingomonas strain. The reduction rates for the sulfonated azo compound amaranth were compared for whole cells and cell extracts from both recombinant strains, E. coli, and wild-type Sphingomonas sp. strain BN6. The whole cells showed less than 2% of the specific activities found with cell extracts. These results suggested that the cytoplasmic anaerobic “azo reductases,” which have been described repeatedly in in vitro systems, are presumably flavin reductases and that in vivo they have insignificant importance in the reduction of sulfonated azo compounds.
The 2,3-dihydroxybiphenyl dioxygenase from Sphingomonas sp. strain BN6 (BphC1-BN6) differs from most other extradiol dioxygenases by its ability to oxidize 3-chlorocatechol to 3-chloro-2-hydroxymuconic semialdehyde by a distal cleavage mechanism. The turnover of different substrates and the effects of various inhibitors on BphC1-BN6 were compared with those of another 2,3-dihydroxybiphenyl dioxygenase from the same strain (BphC2-BN6) as well as with those of the archetypical catechol 2,3-dioxygenase (C23O-mt2) encoded by the TOL plasmid. Cell extracts containing C23O-mt2 or BphC2-BN6 converted the relevant substrates with an almost constant rate for at least 10 min, whereas BphC1-BN6 was inactivated significantly within the first minutes during the turnover of all substrates tested. Furthermore, BphC1-BN6 was much more sensitive than the other two enzymes to inactivation by the Fe(II) ion-chelating compound o-phenanthroline. The reason for inactivation of BphC1-BN6 appeared to be the loss of the weakly bound ferrous ion, which is the cofactor in the catalytic center. A mutant enzyme of BphC1-BN6 constructed by site-directed mutagenesis showed a higher stability to inactivation by o-phenanthroline and an increased catalytic efficiency for the conversion of 2,3-dihydroxybiphenyl and 3-methylcatechol but was still inactivated during substrate oxidation.
Benzothiazole-2-sulfonate (BTSO3) is one of the side products occurring in 2-mercaptobenzothiazole (MBT) production wastewater. We are the first to isolate an axenic culture capable of BTSO3 degradation. The isolate was identified as a Rhodococcus erythropolis strain and also degraded 2-hydroxybenzothiazole (OBT) and benzothiazole (BT), but not MBT, which was found to inhibit the biodegradation of OBT, BT, and BTSO3. In anaerobic resting cell assays, BTSO3 was transformed into OBT in stoichiometric amounts. Under aerobic conditions, OBT was observed as an intermediate in BT breakdown and an unknown compound transiently accumulated in several assays. This product was identified as a dihydroxybenzothiazole. Benzothiazole degradation pathways seem to converge into OBT, which is then transformed further into the dihydroxy derivative.
A bacterial strain (strain S5) which grows aerobically with the sulfonated azo compound 4-carboxy-4′-sulfoazobenzene as the sole source of carbon and energy was isolated. This strain was obtained by continuous adaptation of “Hydrogenophaga palleronii” S1, which has the ability to grow aerobically with 4-aminobenzenesulfonate. Strain S5 probably cleaves 4-carboxy-4′-sulfoazobenzene reductively under aerobic conditions to 4-aminobenzoate and 4-aminobenzene-sulfonate, which are mineralized by previously established degradation pathways.
A 2,3-dihydroxybiphenyl 1,2-dioxygenase from the naphthalenesulfonate-degrading bacterium Sphingomonas sp. strain BN6 oxidized 3-chlorocatechol to a yellow product with a strongly pH-dependent absorption maximum at 378 nm. A titration curve suggested (de)protonation of an ionizable group with a pKa of 4.4. The product was isolated, purified, and converted, by treatment with diazomethane, to a dimethyl derivative and, by incubation with ammonium chloride, to a picolinic acid derivative. Mass spectra and 1H and 13C nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) data for these two derivatives prove a 3-chloro-2-hydroxymuconic semialdehyde structure for the metabolite, resulting from distal (1,6) cleavage of 3-chlorocatechol. 3-Methylcatechol and 2,3-dihydroxybiphenyl are oxidized by this enzyme, in contrast, via proximal (2,3) cleavage.