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Environ Microbiol. 2007 Jun;9(6):1535-40.

Escherichia coli has multiple enzymes that attack TNT and release nitrogen for growth.

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Estación Experimental del Zaidín, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, Apdo. Correos 419, E-18008 Granada, Spain.


There has been a growing interest in the degradation of 2,4,6-trinitrotoluene (TNT) over the last decade, ever since its removal from polluted sites was declared an international environmental priority. Certain aerobic and anaerobic microorganisms are capable of using TNT as an N source, although very few studies have proven the mineralization of this compound. An unexpected observation in our laboratory led us to discover that certain Escherichia coli bench laboratory strains have multiple enzymes that attack TNT. One of the NemA products is responsible for the release of nitrite from the nitroaromatic ring: among the metabolites observed in vitro include Meisenheimer dihydride complexes of TNT from which 2-hydroxylamino-6-nitrotoluene is slowly formed during their rearomatization under concomitant release of nitrite. Furthermore, NemA, together with NfsA and NfsB reduce the nitro groups on the aromatic ring to the corresponding hydroxylamino derivatives, which probably results in the release of ammonium ions which can, in turn be used as a nitrogen source by E. coli for growth.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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