Pentachlorophenol-4-monooxygenase is an aromatic flavoprotein monooxygenase which hydroxylates pentachlorophenol and a wide range of polyhalogenated phenols at their para position. The PCP-degrading Sphingomonas species UG30 was recently shown to mineralize p-nitrophenol. In this study, the UG30 pcpB gene encoding the pentachlorophenol-4-monooxygenase gene was cloned for use to study its potential role in p-nitrophenol degradation. The UG30 pcpB gene consists of 1614 bp with a predicted translational product of 538 amino acids and a molecular mass of 59,933 Da. The primary sequence of pentachlorophenol-4-monooxygenase contained a highly conserved FAD binding site at its N-terminus associated with a beta alpha beta fold. UG30 has been shown previously to convert p-nitrophenol to 4-nitrocatechol. We observed that pentachlorophenol-4-monooxygenase catalyzed the hydroxylation of 4-nitrocatechol to 1,2,4-benzenetriol. About 31.2% of the nitro substituent of 4-nitrocatechol (initial concentration of 200 microM) was cleaved to yield nitrite over 2 h, indicating that the enzyme may be involved in the second step of p-nitrophenol degradation. The enzyme also hydroxylated p-nitrophenol at the para position, but only to a very slight extent. Our results confirm that pentachlorophenol-4-monooxygenase is not the primary enzyme in the initial step of p-nitrophenol metabolism by UG30.
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