A 4.2-kb PstI fragment harboring the gene cluster of the ribulose monophosphate (RuMP) pathway for formaldehyde fixation was identified in the chromosome of a gram-positive, facultative methylotroph, Mycobacterium gastri MB19, by using the coding region of 3-hexulose-6-phosphate synthase (HPS) as the hybridization probe. The PstI fragment contained three complete open reading frames (ORFs) which encoded from the 5′ end, a DNA-binding regulatory protein (rmpR), 6-phospho-3-hexuloisomerase (PHI; rmpB), and HPS (rmpA). Sequence analysis suggested that rmpA and rmpB constitute an operon, and Northern blot analysis of RNA extracted from bacteria grown under various conditions suggested that the expression of the two genes is similarly regulated at the transcriptional level. A similarity search revealed that the proteins encoded by rmpA and rmpB in M. gastri MB19 show high similarity to the unidentified proteins of nonmethylotrophic prokaryotes, including bacteria and anaerobic archaea. The clusters in the phylogenetic tree of the HPS protein of M. gastri MB19 and those in the phylogenetic tree of the PHI protein were nearly identical, which implies that these two formaldehyde-fixing genes evolved as a pair. These findings give new insight into the acquisition of the formaldehyde fixation pathway during the evolution of diverse microorganisms
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