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

Induction of methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE)-oxidizing activity in Mycobacterium vaccae JOB5 by MTBE.

Alkane-grown cells of Mycobacterium vaccae JOB5 cometabolically degrade the gasoline oxygenate methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) through the activities of an alkane-inducible monooxygenase and other enzymes in the alkane oxidation pathway. In this study we examined the effects of MTBE on the MTBE-oxidizing activity of M. vaccae JOB5 grown on diverse nonalkane substrates. Carbon-limited cultures were grown on glycerol, lactate, several sugars, and tricarboxylic acid cycle intermediates, both in the presence and absence of MTBE. In all MTBE-containing cultures, MTBE consumption occurred and tertiary butyl alcohol (TBA) and tertiary butyl formate accumulated in the culture medium. Acetylene, a specific inactivator of alkane- and MTBE-oxidizing activities, fully inhibited MTBE consumption and product accumulation but had no other apparent effects on culture growth. The MTBE-dependent stimulation of MTBE-oxidizing activity in fructose- and glycerol-grown cells was saturable with respect to MTBE concentration (50% saturation level = 2.4 to 2.75 mM), and the onset of MTBE oxidation in glycerol-grown cells was inhibited by both rifampin and chloramphenicol. Other oxygenates (TBA and tertiary amyl methyl ether) also induced the enzyme activity required for their own degradation in glycerol-grown cells. Presence of MTBE also promoted MTBE oxidation in cells grown on organic acids, compounds that are often found in anaerobic, gasoline-contaminated environments. Experiments with acid-grown cells suggested induction of MTBE-oxidizing activity by MTBE is subject to catabolite repression. The results of this study are discussed in terms of their potential implications towards our understanding of the role of cometabolism in MTBE and TBA biodegradation in gasoline-contaminated environments.[1]


  1. Induction of methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE)-oxidizing activity in Mycobacterium vaccae JOB5 by MTBE. Johnson, E.L., Smith, C.A., O'Reilly, K.T., Hyman, M.R. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. (2004) [Pubmed]
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