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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2000 Jan;66(1):163-9.

Generation of novel bacterial regulatory proteins that detect priority pollutant phenols.

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Environmental Molecular Biology Group, Biosciences Division, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, New Mexico 87545, USA.


The genetic systems of bacteria that have the ability to use organic pollutants as carbon and energy sources can be adapted to create bacterial biosensors for the detection of industrial pollution. The creation of bacterial biosensors is hampered by a lack of information about the genetic systems that control production of bacterial enzymes that metabolize pollutants. We have attempted to overcome this problem through modification of DmpR, a regulatory protein for the phenol degradation pathway of Pseudomonas sp. strain CF600. The phenol detection capacity of DmpR was altered by using mutagenic PCR targeted to the DmpR sensor domain. DmpR mutants were identified that both increased sensitivity to the phenolic effectors of wild-type DmpR and increased the range of molecules detected. The phenol detection characteristics of seven DmpR mutants were demonstrated through their ability to activate transcription of a lacZ reporter gene. Effectors of the DmpR derivatives included phenol, 2-chlorophenol, 2,4-dichlorophenol, 4-chloro-3-methylphenol, 2,4-dimethylphenol, 2-nitrophenol, and 4-nitrophenol.

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