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J Bacteriol. 2008 Dec;190(23):7595-600. doi: 10.1128/JB.00489-08. Epub 2008 Sep 26.

Maintenance role of a glutathionyl-hydroquinone lyase (PcpF) in pentachlorophenol degradation by Sphingobium chlorophenolicum ATCC 39723.

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  • 1School of Molecular Biosciences, Washington State University, Pullman, Washington 99164-4234,USA.


Pentachlorophenol (PCP) is a toxic pollutant. Its biodegradation has been extensively studied in Sphingobium chlorophenolicum ATCC 39723. All enzymes required to convert PCP to a common metabolic intermediate before entering the tricarboxylic acid cycle have been characterized. One of the enzymes is tetrachloro-p-hydroquinone (TeCH) reductive dehalogenase (PcpC), which is a glutathione (GSH) S-transferase (GST). PcpC catalyzes the GSH-dependent conversion of TeCH to trichloro-p-hydroquinone (TriCH) and then to dichloro-p-hydroquinone (DiCH) in the PCP degradation pathway. PcpC is susceptible to oxidative damage, and the damaged PcpC produces glutathionyl (GS) conjugates, GS-TriCH and GS-DiCH, which cannot be further metabolized by PcpC. The fate and effect of GS-hydroquinone conjugates were unknown. A putative GST gene (pcpF) is located next to pcpC on the bacterial chromosome. The pcpF gene was cloned, and the recombinant PcpF was purified. The purified PcpF was able to convert GS-TriCH and GS-DiCH conjugates to TriCH and DiCH, respectively. The GS-hydroquinone lyase reactions catalyzed by PcpF are rather unusual for a GST. The disruption of pcpF in S. chlorophenolicum made the mutant lose the GS-hydroquinone lyase activities in the cell extracts. The mutant became more sensitive to PCP toxicity and had a significantly decreased PCP degradation rate, likely due to the accumulation of the GS-hydroquinone conjugates inside the cell. Thus, PcpF played a maintenance role in PCP degradation and converted the GS-hydroquinone conjugates back to the intermediates of the PCP degradation pathway.

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