Plasmid-encoded degradation of p-nitrophenol and 4-nitrocatechol by Arthrobacter protophormiae

Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2000 Apr 21;270(3):733-40. doi: 10.1006/bbrc.2000.2500.


Arthrobacter protophormiae strain RKJ100 is capable of utilizing p-nitrophenol (PNP) as well as 4-nitrocatechol (NC) as the sole source of carbon, nitrogen and energy. The degradation of PNP and NC by this microorganism takes place through an oxidative route, as stoichiometry of nitrite molecules was observed when the strain was grown on PNP or NC as sole carbon and energy sources. The degradative pathways of PNP and NC were elucidated on the basis of enzyme assays and chemical characterization of the intermediates by TLC, GC, (1)H NMR, GC-MS, UV spectroscopy, and HPLC analyses. Our studies clearly indicate that the degradation of PNP proceeds with the formation of p-benzoquinone (BQ) and hydroquinone (HQ) and is further degraded via the beta-ketoadipate pathway. Degradation of NC involved initial oxidation to generate 1,2,4-benzenetriol (BT) and 2-hydroxy-1,4-benzoquinone; the latter intermediate is then reductively dehydroxylated, forming BQ and HQ, and is further cleaved via beta-ketoadipate to TCA intermediates. It is likely, therefore, that the same set of genes encode the further metabolism of HQ in PNP and NC degradation. A plasmid of approximately 65 kb was found to be responsible for harboring genes for PNP and NC degradation in this strain. This was based on the fact that PNP(-) NC(-) derivatives were devoid of the plasmid and had simultaneously lost their capability to grow at the expense of these nitroaromatic compounds.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Arthrobacter / genetics*
  • Arthrobacter / growth & development
  • Arthrobacter / metabolism*
  • Biodegradation, Environmental
  • Catechols / metabolism*
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry
  • Kinetics
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy
  • Nitrites / metabolism
  • Nitrophenols / metabolism*
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Plasmids*


  • Catechols
  • Nitrites
  • Nitrophenols
  • 4-nitrocatechol
  • 4-nitrophenol