Genes encoding the candidate enzyme for anaerobic activation of n-alkanes in the denitrifying bacterium, strain HxN1

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SummaryStrain HxN1, a member of the Betaproteobacteria, can grow anaerobically by denitrification with n-alkanes. n-Alkanes are apparently activated by subterminal carbon addition to fumarate yielding (1-methylalkyl)succinates, the postulated enzyme being (1-methylalkyl)succinate synthase (Mas). Genes encoding this enzyme (mas) were searched for via proteins that were specifically formed in n-hexane-grown cells (in comparison with caproate-grown cells), as revealed by two-dimensional gel electrophoresis. Partial amino acid sequencing and subsequent probe development for hybridization of restricted DNA led to the identification of a gene cluster. Deduced proteins are similar to the subunits of benzylsuccinate synthase (Bss), the toluene-activating enzyme in other anaerobic bacteria and its activase. The tentative (1-methylalkyl)succinate synthase is presumably a heterotrimer (MasDEC) which, like benzylsuccinate synthase, contains a motif (in MasD, the large subunit) characteristic of glycyl radical-bearing sites. Based on amino acid sequence comparison, the tentative (1-methylalkyl)succinate synthase branches outside of the phylogenetic cluster of benzylsuccinate synthases from different organisms and represents a separate line of descent within glycyl radical enzymes. n-Hexane-induced co-transcription of the mas genes and additional genes of an apparent operon was demonstrated by Northern hybridization experiments.

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