Two pathways for para-cresol (p-cresol) degradation by anaerobic bacteria have been elucidated; one involves fumarate addition at the methyl group of p-cresol by a hydroxylbenzylsuccinate synthase protein while the other utilizes a methylhydroxylase protein (PCMH) to catalyze hydroxylation of the methyl group of p-cresol. In Geobacter metallireducens, in vitro enzymatic assays showed that p-cresol is degraded via the methylhydroxylation pathway. However, prior to this study these results had not been confirmed by genetic analyses. In this work, the gene coding for benzylsuccinate-CoA dehydrogenase (bbsG), an enzyme required for toluene degradation by G. metallireducens that is homologous to the p-hydroxybenzylsuccinyl-CoA dehydrogenase involved in p-cresol degradation by Desulfobacula toluolica Tol2 via fumarate addition, and the gene encoding the alpha prime subunit of PCMH (pcmI), were deleted to investigate the possibility of co-existing p-cresol degradation pathways in G. metallireducens. The absence of a functional PcmI protein completely inhibited p-cresol degradation, while deletion of the bbsG gene had little impact. These results further support the observation that G. metallireducens utilizes a PCMH-initiated pathway for p-cresol degradation.
- Geobacter metallireducens