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J Bacteriol. 1988 Oct;170(10):4718-26.

Structure and comparative analysis of the genes encoding component C of methyl coenzyme M reductase in the extremely thermophilic archaebacterium Methanothermus fervidus.

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Department of Microbiology, Ohio State University, Columbus 43210.


A 6-kilobase-pair (kbp) region of the genome of the extremely thermophilic arachaebacterium Methanothermus fervidus which encodes the alpha, beta, and gamma subunit polypeptides of component C of methyl coenzyme M reductase was cloned and sequenced. Genes encoding the beta (mcrB) and gamma (mcrG) subunits were separated by two open reading frames (designated mcrC and mcrD) which encode unknown gene products. The M. fervidus genes were preceded by ribosome-binding sites, separated by short A + T-rich intergenic regions, contained unexpectedly few NNC codons, and exhibited inflexible codon usage at some locations. Sites of transcription initiation and termination flanking the mcrBDCGA cluster of genes in M. fervidus were identified. The sequences of the genes, the encoded polypeptides, and transcription regulatory signals in M. fervidus were compared with the functionally equivalent sequences from two mesophilic methanogens (Methanococcus vannielii and Methanosarcina barkeri) and from a moderate thermophile (Methanobacterium thermoautotrophicum Marburg). The amino acid sequences of the polypeptides encoded by the mcrBCGA genes in the two thermophiles were approximately 80% identical, whereas all other pairs of these gene products contained between 50 and 60% identical amino acid residues. The mcrD gene products have diverged more than the products of the other mcr genes. Identification of highly conserved regions within mcrA and mcrB suggested oligonucleotide sequences which might be developed as hybridization probes which could be used for identifying and quantifying all methanogens.

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