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J Bacteriol. 2001 Jan;183(1):270-9.

Transcriptional organization and dynamic expression of the hbpCAD genes, which encode the first three enzymes for 2-hydroxybiphenyl degradation in Pseudomonas azelaica HBP1.

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Swiss Federal Institute for Environmental Science and Technology and Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, CH-8600 Dübendorf, Switzerland.


Pseudomonas azelaica HBP1 degrades the toxic substance 2-hydroxybiphenyl (2-HBP) by means of three enzymes that are encoded by structural genes hbpC, hbpA, and hbpD. These three genes form a small noncontiguous cluster. Their expression is activated by the product of regulatory gene hbpR, which is located directly upstream of the hbpCAD genes. The HbpR protein is a transcription activator and belongs to the so-called XylR/DmpR subclass within the NtrC family of transcriptional activators. Transcriptional fusions between the different hbp intergenic regions and the luxAB genes of Vibrio harveyi in P. azelaica and in Escherichia coli revealed the existence of two HbpR-regulated promoters; one is located in front of hbpC, and the other one is located in front of hbpD. Northern analysis confirmed that the hbpC and hbpA genes are cotranscribed, whereas the hbpD gene is transcribed separately. No transcripts comprising the entire hbpCAD cluster were detected, indicating that transcription from P(hbpC) is terminated after the hbpA gene. E. coli mutant strains lacking the structural genes for the RNA polymerase sigma(54) subunit or for the integration host factor failed to express bioluminescence from P(hbpC)- and P(hbpD)-luxAB fusions when a functional hbpR gene was provided in trans. This pointed to the active role of sigma(54) and integration host factor in transcriptional activation from these promoters. Primer extension analysis revealed that both P(hbpC) and P(hbpD) contain the typical motifs at position -24 (GG) and -12 (GC) found in sigma(54)-dependent promoters. Analysis of changes in the synthesis of the hbp mRNAs, in activities of the 2-HBP pathway enzymes, and in concentrations of 2-HBP intermediates during the first 4 h after induction of continuously grown P. azelaica cells with 2-HBP demonstrated that the specific transcriptional organization of the hbp genes ensured smooth pathway expression.

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