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J Bacteriol. Apr 1985; 162(1): 344–352.
PMCID: PMC218995

Isolation and characterization of mutant strains of Escherichia coli altered in H2 metabolism.


A positive selection procedure is described for the isolation of hydrogenase-defective mutant strains of Escherichia coli. Mutant strains isolated by this procedure can be divided into two major classes. Class I mutants produced hydrogenase activity (determined by using a tritium-exchange assay) and formate hydrogenlyase activity but lacked the ability to reduce benzyl viologen or fumarate with H2 as the electron donor. Class II mutants failed to produce active hydrogenase and hydrogenase-dependent activities. All the mutant strains produced detectable levels of formate dehydrogenase-1 and -2 and fumarate reductase. The mutation in class I mutants mapped near 65 min of the E. coli chromosome, whereas the mutation in class II mutants mapped between srl and cys operons (58 and 59 min, respectively) in the genome. The class II Hyd mutants can be further subdivided into two groups (hydA and hydB) based on the cotransduction characteristics with cys and srl. These results indicate that there are two hyd operons and one hup operon in the E. coli chromosome. The two hyd operons are needed for the production of active hydrogenase, and all three are essential for hydrogen-dependent growth of the cell.

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