Dissimilation of the C2 sulfonates

Arch Microbiol. 2002 Dec;179(1):1-6. doi: 10.1007/s00203-002-0497-0. Epub 2002 Nov 7.


Organosulfonates are widespread in the environment, both as natural products and as xenobiotics; and they generally share the property of chemical stability. A wide range of phenomena has evolved in microorganisms able to utilize the sulfur or the carbon moiety of these compounds; and recent work has centered on bacteria. This Mini-Review centers on bacterial catabolism of the carbon moiety in the C2-sulfonates and the fate of the sulfonate group. Five of the six compounds examined are subject to catabolism, but information on the molecular nature of transport and regulation is based solely on sequencing data. Two mechanisms of desulfonation have been established. First, there is the specific monooxygenation of ethanesulfonate or ethane-1,2-disulfonate. Second, the oxidative, reductive and fermentative modes of catabolism tend to yield the intermediate sulfoacetaldehyde, which is now known to be desulfonated to acetyl phosphate by a thiamin-diphosphate-dependent acetyltransferase. This enzyme is widespread and at least three subgroups can be recognized, some of them in genomic sequencing projects. These data emphasize the importance of acetyl phosphate in bacterial metabolism. A third mechanism of desulfonation is suggested: the hydrolysis of sulfoacetate.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acetaldehyde / analogs & derivatives*
  • Acetaldehyde / classification
  • Acetaldehyde / metabolism
  • Alkanesulfonates / metabolism*
  • Bacteria / metabolism*
  • Bacteria, Aerobic / enzymology
  • Bacteria, Aerobic / growth & development
  • Bacteria, Aerobic / metabolism
  • Biodegradation, Environmental
  • Molecular Structure
  • Sulfites / metabolism
  • Sulfonic Acids / classification
  • Sulfonic Acids / metabolism*


  • Alkanesulfonates
  • Sulfites
  • Sulfonic Acids
  • sulfoacetaldehyde
  • ethane sulfonate
  • Acetaldehyde