Organophosphonates are molecules that contain a very chemically stable carbon-phosphorus (C-P) bond. Microorganisms can utilize phosphonates as potential source of crucial elements for their growth, as developed several pathways to metabolize these compounds. One among these pathways is catalyzed by C-P lyase complex, which has a broad substrate specifity; therefore, it has a wide application in degradation of herbicides deposited in the environment, such as glyphosate. This multi-enzyme system accurately recognized in Escherichia coli and genetic studies have demonstrated that it is encoded by phn operon containing 14 genes (phnC-phnP). The phn operon is a member of the Pho regulon induced by phosphate starvation. Ability to degradation of phosphonates is also found in other microorganisms, especially soil and marine bacteria, that have homologous genes to those in E. coli. Despite the existence of differences in structure and composition of phn gene cluster, each of these strains contains phnGHIJKLM genes necessary in the C-P bond cleavage mechanism. The review provides a detailed description and summary of achievements on the C-P lyase enzymatic pathway over the last 50 years.
Keywords: C-P bond; Carbon-phosphorus lyase complex; Pho regulon; Phosphonate degradation; Phosphonates; phn operon.
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