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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Roles of horizontal gene transfer and gene integration in evolution of 1,3-dichloropropene- and 1,2-dibromoethane-degradative pathways.

The haloalkane-degrading bacteria Rhodococcus rhodochrous NCIMB13064, Pseudomonas pavonaceae 170, and Mycobacterium sp. strain GP1 share a highly conserved haloalkane dehalogenase gene (dhaA). Here, we describe the extent of the conserved dhaA segments in these three phylogenetically distinct bacteria and an analysis of their flanking sequences. The dhaA gene of the 1-chlorobutane-degrading strain NCIMB13064 was found to reside within a 1-chlorobutane catabolic gene cluster, which also encodes a putative invertase (invA), a regulatory protein (dhaR), an alcohol dehydrogenase (adhA), and an aldehyde dehydrogenase (aldA). The latter two enzymes may catalyze the oxidative conversion of n-butanol, the hydrolytic product of 1-chlorobutane, to n-butyric acid, a growth substrate for many bacteria. The activity of the dhaR gene product was analyzed in Pseudomonas sp. strain GJ1, in which it appeared to function as a repressor of dhaA expression. The 1,2-dibromoethane-degrading strain GP1 contained a conserved DNA segment of 2.7 kb, which included dhaR, dhaA, and part of invA. A 12-nucleotide deletion in dhaR led to constitutive expression of dhaA in strain GP1, in contrast to the inducible expression of dhaA in strain NCIMB13064. The 1, 3-dichloropropene-degrading strain 170 possessed a conserved DNA segment of 1.3 kb harboring little more than the coding region of the dhaA gene. In strains 170 and GP1, a putative integrase gene was found next to the conserved dhaA segment, which suggests that integration events were responsible for the acquisition of these DNA segments. The data indicate that horizontal gene transfer and integrase-dependent gene acquisition were the key mechanisms for the evolution of catabolic pathways for the man-made chemicals 1, 3-dichloropropene and 1,2-dibromoethane.[1]


  1. Roles of horizontal gene transfer and gene integration in evolution of 1,3-dichloropropene- and 1,2-dibromoethane-degradative pathways. Poelarends, G.J., Kulakov, L.A., Larkin, M.J., van Hylckama Vlieg, J.E., Janssen, D.B. J. Bacteriol. (2000) [Pubmed]
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