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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2002 Oct;68(10):4971-8.

Polyphosphate kinase from activated sludge performing enhanced biological phosphorus removal.

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Department of Civil Engineering, University of California at Berkeley, Berkeley, California 94720-1460, USA.


A novel polyphosphate kinase (PPK) was retrieved from an uncultivated organism in activated sludge carrying out enhanced biological phosphorus removal (EBPR). Acetate-fed laboratory-scale sequencing batch reactors were used to maintain sludge with a high phosphorus content (approximately 11% of the biomass). PCR-based clone libraries of small subunit rRNA genes and fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH) were used to verify that the sludge was enriched in Rhodocyclus-like beta-Proteobacteria known to be associated with sludges carrying out EBPR. These organisms comprised approximately 80% of total bacteria in the sludge, as assessed by FISH. Degenerate PCR primers were designed to retrieve fragments of putative ppk genes from a pure culture of Rhodocyclus tenuis and from organisms in the sludge. Four novel ppk homologs were found in the sludge, and two of these (types I and II) shared a high degree of amino acid similarity with R. tenuis PPK (86 and 87% similarity, respectively). Dot blot analysis of total RNA extracted from sludge demonstrated that the Type I ppk mRNA was present, indicating that this gene is expressed during EBPR. Inverse PCR was used to obtain the full Type I sequence from sludge DNA, and a full-length PPK was cloned, overexpressed, and purified to near homogeneity. The purified PPK has a specific activity comparable to that of other PPKs, has a requirement for Mg(2+), and does not appear to operate in reverse. PPK activity was found mainly in the particulate fraction of lysed sludge microorganisms.

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