Carbofuran, a broad-spectrum systemic insecticide, has been extensively used for approximately 50 years. Diverse carbofuran-degrading bacteria have been described, among which sphingomonads have exhibited an extraordinary ability to catabolize carbofuran; other bacteria can only convert carbofuran to carbofuran phenol, while all carbofuran-degrading sphingomonads can degrade both carbofuran and carbofuran phenol. However, the genetic basis of carbofuran catabolism in sphingomonads has not been well elucidated. In this work, we sequenced the draft genome of Sphingomonas sp. strain CDS-1 that can transform both carbofuran and carbofuran phenol but fails to grow on them. On the basis of the hypothesis that the genes involved in carbofuran catabolism are highly conserved among carbofuran-degrading sphingomonads, two such genes, cehACDS-1 and cfdCCDS-1, were predicted from the 84 open reading frames (ORFs) that share ≥95% nucleic acid similarities between strain CDS-1 and another sphingomonad Novosphingobium sp. strain KN65.2 that is able to mineralize the benzene ring of carbofuran. The results of the gene knockout, genetic complementation, heterologous expression, and enzymatic experiments reveal that cehACDS-1 and cfdCCDS-1 are responsible for the conversion of carbofuran and carbofuran phenol, respectively, in strain CDS-1. CehACDS-1 hydrolyzes carbofuran to carbofuran phenol. CfdCCDS-1, a reduced flavin mononucleotide (FMNH2)- or reduced flavin adenine dinucleotide (FADH2)-dependent monooxygenase, hydroxylates carbofuran phenol at the benzene ring in the presence of NADH, FMN/FAD, and the reductase CfdX. It is worth noting that we found that carbaryl hydrolase CehAAC100, which was previously demonstrated to have no activity toward carbofuran, can actually convert carbofuran to carbofuran phenol, albeit with very low activity.IMPORTANCE Due to the extensive use of carbofuran over the past 50 years, bacteria have evolved catabolic pathways to mineralize this insecticide, which plays an important role in eliminating carbofuran residue in the environment. This study revealed the genetic determinants of carbofuran degradation in Sphingomonas sp. strain CDS-1. We speculate that the close homologues cehA and cfdC are highly conserved among other carbofuran-degrading sphingomonads and play the same roles as those described here. These findings deepen our understanding of the microbial degradation mechanism of carbofuran and lay a foundation for the better use of microbes to remediate carbofuran contamination.
Keywords: carbofuran; hydrolase CehA; monooxygenase CfdC; sphingomonads; upstream catabolic pathway.
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