Methylibium petroleiphilum strain PM1 uses various petroleum products including the fuel additive methyl tert-butyl ether and straight chain and aromatic hydrocarbons as sole carbon and energy sources. It has two operons, dmpI and dmpII, that code for the enzymes in a pair of parallel meta-fission pathways. In order to understand the roles of the pathways, the 4-oxalocrotonate tautomerase (4-OT) isozyme from each pathway was characterized. Tautomerase I and tautomerase II have the lowest pairwise sequence identity (35%) among the isozyme pairs in the parallel pathways, and could offer insight into substrate preferences and pathway functions. The kinetic parameters of tautomerase I and tautomerase II were determined using 2-hydroxymuconate and 5-(methyl)-2-hydroxymuconate. Both tautomerase I and tautomerase II process the substrates, but with different efficiencies. Crystal structures were determined for both tautomerase I and tautomerase II, at 1.57 and 1.64Å resolution, respectively. The backbones of tautomerase I and tautomerase II are highly similar, but have distinct active site environments. The results, in combination with those for other structurally and kinetically characterized 4-OT isozymes, suggest that tautomerase I catalyzes the tautomerization of both 2-hydroxymuconate and alkyl derivatives, whereas tautomerase II might specialize in other aromatic hydrocarbon metabolites.
Keywords: Bioremediation; Methylibium petroleiphilum; Tautomerase; X-ray crystallography.
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