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J Gen Microbiol. 1978 Apr;105(2):335-42.

Dimethyl sulphoxide reduction by micro-organisms.


Dimethyl sulphoxide (DMSO) was reduced to dimethyl sulphide by a wide variety of micro-organism, including prokaryotes and eukaryotes, aerobes and anaerobes. Dimethyl sulphone was not reduced by any of the organisms tested. Cell-free extracts of Escherichia coli reduced DMSO using reduced pyridine nucleotides as electron donors. Activity was greater in anaerobically grown cells than in those grown aerobically. Two other sulphoxides, methionine sulphoxide and tetramethylene sulphoxide, substantially inhibited DMSO reduction by extracts. Mutants of E. coli, which were unable to reduce biotin sulphoxide to biotin, were tested for their ability to reduce DMSO in whole cells and extracts. These mutants were in four different gene loci, bisA to bisD. DMSO reductase activity of the mutants was generally less than that of the wild-type strain, and activity depended upon the gene locus involved, the growth medium and the growth conditions. Only the bisA mutant had very low activity under all conditions. All of the bis mutants were able to grow using methionine sulphoxide as a sulphur source, indicating that biotin sulphoxide and methionine sulphoxide are reduced by different enzyme systems. DMSO may be reduced by both of these enzyme systems.

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