Applied and Environmental Microbiology
The findings of previous studies indicate that the genes required for metabolism of the pesticide 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D) are typically encoded on broad-host-range plasmids. However, characterization of plasmid-cured strains of Burkholderia sp. strain RASC, as well as mutants obtained by transposon mutagenesis, suggested that the 2,4-D catabolic genes were located on the chromosome of this strain. Mutants of Burkholderia strain RASC unable to degrade 2,4-D (2,4-D- strains) were obtained by insertional inactivation with Tn5. One such mutant (d1) was shown to have Tn5 inserted in tfdARASC, which encodes 2,4-D/alpha-ketoglutarate dioxygenase. This is the first reported example of a chromosomally encoded tfdA. The tfdARASC gene was cloned from a library of wild-type Burkholderia strain RASC DNA and shown to express 2,4-D/alpha-ketoglutarate dioxygenase activity in Escherichia coli. The DNA sequence of the gene was determined and shown to be similar, although not identical, to those of isofunctional genes from other bacteria. Moreover, the gene product (TfdARASC) was purified and shown to be similar in molecular weight, amino-terminal sequence, and reaction mechanism to the canonical TfdA of Alcaligenes eutrophus JMP134. The data presented here indicate that tfdA genes can be found on the chromosome of some bacterial species and suggest that these catabolic genes are rather mobile and may be transferred by means other than conjugation.