Three multicomponent oxygenases involved in the degradation of -toluenesulfonate and -toluenecarboxylate and the regulation of their synthesis have been examined in three strains (T-2, PSB-4 and TER-1) of Strain T-2 utilizes -toluenesulfonate as a source of carbon and energy for growth via -sulfobenzoate and protocatechuate, and -toluenecarboxylate via terephthalate and protocatechuate, and has the unusual property of requiring the reductase (TsaB) of the toluenesulfonate methyl monooxygenase system (TsaMB) in an incompletely expressed sulfobenzoate dioxygenase system (PsbAC) [Schläfli Oppenberg, H. R., Chen, G., Leisinger, T. & Cook, A. M. (1995). 141, 1891-1899]. The independently isolated PSB-4 utilized only sulfobenzoate and terephthalate via protocatechuate. Mutant TER-1, derived from strain T-2, utilized only terephthalate via protocatechuate. We detected no enzymes of the pathway from toluenesulfonate to sulfobenzoate in strains PSB-4 and TER-1, and confirmed by PCR and Southern blot analysis that the genes () encoding toluenesulfonate monooxygenase were absent. We concluded that, in strain PSB-4, the regulatory unit encoding the genes for the conversion of toluenesulfonate to sulfobenzoate was missing, and that generation of mutant TER-1 involved deletion of this regulatory unit and of the regulatory unit encoding desulfonation of sulfobenzoate. The degradation of sulfobenzoate in strain PSB-4 was catalysed by a fully inducible sulfobenzoate dioxygenase system (PsbAC), which, after purification of the oxygenase component (PsbA), turned out to be indistinguishable from the corresponding component from strain T-2 (PsbA). Reductase PsbC, which we could separate but not purify, was active with oxygenase PsbA and PsbA. Oxygenase PsbA was shown by electron paramagnetic resonance spectroscopy to contain a Rieske [2Fe-2S] centre. The enzyme system oxygenating terephthalate was examined and the oxygenase component purified and characterized. The oxygenase component in strains T-2 (and mutant TER-1) and PSB-4 were indistinguishable. The reductase component, which we separated but failed to purify, was active with the oxygenase from all strains. Gains and losses of blocks of genes in evolution is discussed.


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