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Mol Microbiol. 2005 Dec;58(5):1210-5.

Iron-reducing bacteria unravel novel strategies for the anaerobic catabolism of aromatic compounds.

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Centro de Investigaciones Biológicas, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, Department of Molecular Microbiology, Ramiro de Maeztu 9, 28040 Madrid, Spain.


Although the aerobic degradation of aromatic compounds has been extensively studied in many microorganisms, the anaerobic mineralization of the aromatic ring is a more recently discovered microbial capacity on which very little information is available from facultative anaerobic bacteria. In this issue of Molecular Microbiology, Wischgoll and colleagues use proteomic and reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction (PCR) approaches to identify for the first time the gene clusters involved in the central pathway for the catabolism of aromatic compounds in Geobacter metallireducens, a strictly anaerobic iron-reducing bacterium. This work highlights that the major difference in anaerobic benzoate metabolism of facultative and strictly anaerobic bacteria is the reductive process for dearomatization of benzoyl-CoA. The authors propose that a new type of benzoyl-CoA reductase, comprising molybdenum- and selenocysteine-containing proteins, is present in strictly anaerobic bacteria. This work paves the way to fundamental studies on the biochemistry and regulation of this new reductive process and provides the first genetic clues on the anaerobic catabolism of benzoate by strict anaerobes.

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