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Biodegradation. 1994 Dec;5(3-4):195-217.

The evolution of pathways for aromatic hydrocarbon oxidation in Pseudomonas.

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School of Biological Sciences, University of Wales, Bangor, Gwynedd, UK.


The organisation and nucleotide sequences coding for the catabolism of benzene, toluene (and xylenes), naphthalene and biphenyl via catechol and the extradiol (meta) cleavage pathway in Pseudomonas are reviewed and the various factors which may have played a part in their evolution are considered. The data suggests that the complete pathways have evolved in a modular way probably from at least three elements. The common meta pathway operons, downstream from the ferredoxin-like protein adjacent to the gene for catechol 2,3-dioxygenase, are highly homologous and clearly share a common ancestry. This common module may have become fused to a gene or genes the product(s) of which could convert a stable chemical (benzoate, salicylate, toluene, benzene, phenol) to catechol, thus forming the lower pathway operons found in modern strains. The upper pathway operons might then have been acquired as a third module at a later stage thus increasing the catabolic versatility of the host strains.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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