A method was developed for the purification of catechol 1,2-dioxygenase from Rhodococcus rhodochrous NCIMB 13259 that had been grown in the presence of benzyl alcohol. The enzyme has very similar apparent Km (1–2 µM) and Vmax (13–19 units/mg of protein) values for the intradiol cleavage of catechol, 3-methylcatechol and 4-methylcatechol and it is optimally active at pH 9. Cross-linking studies indicate that the enzyme is a homodimer. It contains 0.6 atoms of Fe per subunit. The enzyme was crystallized with 15% (w/v) poly(ethylene glycol) 4000/0.33 M CaCl2/25 mM Tris (pH 7.5) by using a microseeding technique. Preliminary X-ray characterization showed that the crystals are in space group C2 with unit-cell dimensions a = 111.9 Å, b = 78.1 Å, c = 134.6 Å, β = 100 °. An oligonucleotide probe, made by hemi-nested PCR, was used to clone the gene encoding catechol 1,2-dioxygenase (catA). The deduced 282-residue sequence corresponds to a protein of molecular mass 31539 Da, close to the molecular mass of 31558 Da obtained by electrospray MS of the purified enzyme. catA was subcloned into the expression vector pTB361, allowing the production of catechol 1,2-dioxygenase to approx. 40% of the total cellular protein. The deduced amino acid sequence of the enzyme has 56% and 75% identity with the catechol 1,2-dioxygenases of Arthrobacter mA3 and Rhodococcus erythropolis AN-13 respectively, but less than 35% identity with intradiol catechol and chlorocatechol dioxygenases of Gram-negative bacteria.

The nucleotide sequence data reported will appear in DDBJ, EMBL and GenBank Nucleotide Sequence Databases under the accession number AF043741.

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