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J Gen Microbiol. 1987 Mar;133(3):645-53.

Isolation and characterization of Escherichia coli mutants lacking inducible cyanase.

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Laboratoire de Biochimie et Génétique des Microorganismes, JE CNRS 034620, Université de Poitiers, France.


To determine the physiological role of cyanate aminohydrolase (cyanase, EC in bacteria, mutants of Escherichia coli K12 devoid of this inducible activity were isolated and their properties investigated. Five independent mutations were localized next to lac; three of them lay between lacY and codA. Thus cyanase activity could depend on the integrity of one gene or set of clustered genes; we propose for this locus the symbol cnt. Growth of the mutant stains was more sensitive to cyanate than growth of wild-type strains. This difference was noticeable in synthetic medium in the presence of low concentrations of cyanate (less than or equal to 1 mM). Higher concentrations inhibited growth of both wild-type and mutant strains. Urea in aqueous solutions dissociates slowly into ammonium cyanate. Accordingly wild-type strains were able to grow on a synthetic medium containing 0.5 M-urea whereas mutants lacking cyanase were not. We conclude that cyanase could play a role in destroying exogenous cyanate originating from the dissociation of carbamoyl compounds such as urea; alternatively cyanate might constitute a convenient nitrogen source for bacteria able to synthesize cyanase in an inducible way.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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