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

Mechanism for biotransformation of nonylphenol polyethoxylates to Xenoestrogens in Pseudomonas putida.

A strain of Pseudomonas putida isolated from activated sewage grew aerobically on the xenoestrogen precursor, nonylphenol polyethoxylate (NPEOx, where x is the number of ethoxylate units) as sole carbon source. Comparative growth yields on NPEOav6, NPEOav9, and NPEOav20 (mixtures with average ethoxylate numbers as indicated) were consistent with utilization of all but two ethoxylate units, and the final accumulating metabolite was identified by gas chromatography-mass spectroscopy as nonylphenol diethoxylate (NPEO2). There was no growth on nonylphenol or polyethylene glycols, and there was no evidence for production of carboxylic acid analogs of NPEOx. Biodegradation kinetics measured by high-pressure liquid chromatography (HPLC) for each component in NPEOx mixtures showed that biodegradation proceeded via successive exoscission of the ethoxylate chain and not by direct scission between the second and third ethoxylate residues. The NPEOx-degrading activity was inducible by substrate, and cell extracts of NPEOav9-induced cells were also active on the pure alcohol ethoxylate, dodecyl octaethoxylate (AEO8), producing sequentially, under either aerobic or anaerobic conditions, AEO7, AEO6, AEO5, etc., thus demonstrating that the pathway involved removal of single ethoxylate units. HPLC analysis of 2,4-dinitrophenylhydrazone derivatives revealed acetaldehyde (ethanal) as the sole aldehydic product from either NPEOav9 or AEO8 under either aerobic or anaerobic conditions. We propose a mechanism for biotransformation which involves an oxygen-independent hydroxyl shift from the terminal to the penultimate carbon of the terminal ethoxylate unit of NPEOx and dissociation of the resulting hemiacetal to release acetaldehyde and the next-lower homolog, NPEOx-1, which then undergoes further cycles of the same reaction until x = 2.[1]


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