Inducible mineralization of TSA (4-toluenesulphonate) by Comamonas testosteroni T-2 is initiated by a secondary transport system, followed by oxygenation and oxidation by TsaMBCD to 4-sulphobenzoate under the regulation of TsaR and TsaQ. Evidence is presented for a novel, presumably two-component transport system (TsaST). It is proposed that TsaT, an outer-membrane porin, formed an anion-selective channel that works in co-operation with the putative secondary transporter, TsaS, located in the inner membrane. tsaT was identified as a 1017-bp ORF (open reading frame) on plasmid pTSA upstream of the TSA-catabolic genes in the tsa operon. Expression of tsaT was regulated by TsaR, the transcriptional activator of the tsa regulon. The presence of tsaT was concomitant with the presence of the tsa operon in different TSA-degrading isolates. tsaT was expressed in Escherichia coli and was detected in the outer membrane. A 22-amino-acid leader peptide was identified. Purified protein reconstituted in lipid bilayer membranes formed anion-selective channels with a single-channel conductance of 3.5 nS in 1 M KCl. Downstream of tsaT, a constitutively expressed 720-bp ORF (tsaS) was identified. tsaS coded for a hydrophobic protein predicted to have six transmembrane helices and which is most likely localized in the cytoplasmic membrane. tsaS is adjacent to tsaT, but showed a different transcriptional profile.

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