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Microbiol Mol Biol Rev. 2004 Sep;68(3):474-500, table of contents.

Bacterial transcriptional regulators for degradation pathways of aromatic compounds.

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Swiss Federal Institute for Environmental Science and Technology (EAWAG), Dübendorf, Switzerland.


Human activities have resulted in the release and introduction into the environment of a plethora of aromatic chemicals. The interest in discovering how bacteria are dealing with hazardous environmental pollutants has driven a large research community and has resulted in important biochemical, genetic, and physiological knowledge about the degradation capacities of microorganisms and their application in bioremediation, green chemistry, or production of pharmacy synthons. In addition, regulation of catabolic pathway expression has attracted the interest of numerous different groups, and several catabolic pathway regulators have been exemplary for understanding transcription control mechanisms. More recently, information about regulatory systems has been used to construct whole-cell living bioreporters that are used to measure the quality of the aqueous, soil, and air environment. The topic of biodegradation is relatively coherent, and this review presents a coherent overview of the regulatory systems involved in the transcriptional control of catabolic pathways. This review summarizes the different regulatory systems involved in biodegradation pathways of aromatic compounds linking them to other known protein families. Specific attention has been paid to describing the genetic organization of the regulatory genes, promoters, and target operon(s) and to discussing present knowledge about signaling molecules, DNA binding properties, and operator characteristics, and evidence from regulatory mutants. For each regulator family, this information is combined with recently obtained protein structural information to arrive at a possible mechanism of transcription activation. This demonstrates the diversity of control mechanisms existing in catabolic pathways.

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