Cloning and characterization of a Pseudomonas mendocina KR1 gene cluster encoding toluene-4-monooxygenase

J Bacteriol. 1991 Sep;173(17):5315-27. doi: 10.1128/jb.173.17.5315-5327.1991.


Pseudomonas mendocina KR1 metabolizes toluene as a carbon source by a previously unknown pathway. The initial step of the pathway is hydroxylation of toluene to form p-cresol by a multicomponent toluene-4-monooxygenase (T4MO) system. The T4MO enzyme system has broad substrate specificity and provides a new opportunity for biodegradation of toxic compounds and bioconversions. Its known activities include conversion of a variety of phenyl compounds into the phenolic derivatives and the complete degradation of trichloroethylene. We have cloned and characterized a gene cluster from KR1 that determines the offO activity. To clone the T4MO genes, KR1 DNA libraries were constructed in Escherichia coli HB101 by using a broad-host-range vector and transferred to a KR1 mutant able to grow on p-cresol but not on toluene. An insert consisting of two SacI fragments of identical size (10.2 kb) was shown to complement the mutant for growth on toluene. One of the SacI fragments, when cloned into the E. coli vector pUC19, was found to direct the synthesis of indigo dye. The indigo-forming property was correlated with the presence of T4MO activity. The T4MO genes were mapped to a 3.6-kb region, and the direction of transcription was determined. DNA sequencing and N-terminal amino acid determination identified a five-gene cluster, tmoABCDE, within this region. Expression of this cluster carrying a single mutation in each gene demonstrated that each of the five genes is essential for T4MO activity. Other evidence presented indicated that none of the tmo genes was involved in the regulation of the tmo gene cluster, in the control of substrate transport for the T4MO system, or in major processing of the products of the tmo genes. It was tentatively concluded that the tmoABCDE genes encode structural polypeptides of the T4MO enzyme system. One of the tmo genes was tentatively identified as a ferredoxin gene.

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Base Sequence
  • Biodegradation, Environmental
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Cloning, Molecular
  • DNA, Bacterial / genetics
  • Escherichia coli / genetics
  • Ferredoxins / genetics
  • Genes, Bacterial*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Multigene Family*
  • Mutagenesis
  • Oxygenases / genetics*
  • Peptide Mapping
  • Plasmids
  • Pseudomonas / genetics*
  • Restriction Mapping
  • Sequence Homology, Nucleic Acid
  • Toluene / metabolism
  • Transcription, Genetic
  • Trypsin / chemistry


  • DNA, Bacterial
  • Ferredoxins
  • Toluene
  • Oxygenases
  • toluene-4-monooxygenase
  • Trypsin

Associated data

  • GENBANK/M60475
  • GENBANK/M60513
  • GENBANK/M64126
  • GENBANK/M64127
  • GENBANK/M64128
  • GENBANK/M64129
  • GENBANK/M65106
  • GENBANK/S52400
  • GENBANK/S52985
  • GENBANK/S52988
  • GENBANK/S52991