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Environ Microbiol. 1999 Aug;1(4):307-17.

Molecular screening for alkane hydroxylase genes in Gram-negative and Gram-positive strains.

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Institute of Biotechnology, ETH Hönggerberg, Zürich, Switzerland.


We have developed highly degenerate oligonucleotides for polymerase chain reaction (PCR) amplification of genes related to the Pseudomonas oleovorans GPo1 and Acinetobacter sp. ADP1 alkane hydroxylases, based on a number of highly conserved sequence motifs. In all Gram-negative and in two out of three Gram-positive strains able to grow on medium- (C6-C11) or long-chain n-alkanes (C12-C16), PCR products of the expected size were obtained. The PCR fragments were cloned and sequenced and found to encode peptides with 43.2-93.8% sequence identity to the corresponding fragment of the P. oleovorans GPo1 alkane hydroxylase. Strains that were unable to grow on n-alkanes did not yield PCR products with homology to alkane hydroxylase genes. The alkane hydroxylase genes of Acinetobacter calcoaceticus EB104 and Pseudomonas putida P1 were cloned using the PCR products as probes. The two genes allow an alkane hydroxylase-negative mutant of Acinetobacter sp. ADP1 and an Escherichia coli recombinant containing all P. oleovorans alk genes except alkB, respectively, to grow on n-alkanes, showing that the cloned genes do indeed encode alkane hydroxylases.

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