Assemblage of ortho cleavage route for simultaneous degradation of chloro- and methylaromatics

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Science  04 Dec 1987:
Vol. 238, Issue 4832, pp. 1395-1398
DOI: 10.1126/science.3479842


Genetic engineering is a powerful means of accelerating the evolution of new biological activities and has considerable potential for constructing microorganisms that can degrade environmental pollutants. Critical enzymes from five different catabolic pathways of three distinct soil bacteria have been combined in patchwork fashion into a functional ortho cleavage route for the degradation of methylphenols and methylbenzoates. The new bacterium thereby evolved was able to degrade and grow on mixtures of chloro- and methylaromatics that were toxic even for the bacteria that could degrade the individual components of the mixtures. Except for one enzymatic step, the pathway was fully regulated and its component enzymes were only synthesized in response to the presence of pathway substrates.

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