The biphenyl dioxygenases (BP Dox) of strains Pseudomonas pseudoalcaligenes KF707 and Pseudomonas cepacia LB400 exhibit a distinct difference in substrate ranges of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB) despite nearly identical amino acid sequences. The range of congeners oxidized by LB400 BP Dox is much wider than that oxidized by KF707 BP Dox. The PCB degradation abilities of these BP Dox were highly dependent on the recognition of the chlorinated rings and the sites of oxygen activation. The KF707 BP Dox recognized primarily the 4'-chlorinated ring (97%) of 2,5,4'-trichlorobiphenyl and introduced molecular oxygen at the 2',3' position. The LB400 BP Dox recognized primarily the 2,5-dichlorinated ring (95%) of the same compound and introduced O2 at the 3,4 position. It was confirmed that the BphA1 subunit (iron-sulfur protein of terminal dioxygenase encoded by bphA1) plays a crucial role in determining the substrate selectivity. We constructed a variety of chimeric bphA1 genes by exchanging four common restriction fragments between the KF707 bphA1 and the LB400 bphA1. Observation of Escherichia coli cells expressing various chimeric BP Dox revealed that a relatively small number of amino acids in the carboxy-terminal half (among 20 different amino acids in total) are involved in the recognition of the chlorinated ring and the sites of dioxygenation and thereby are responsible for the degradation of PCB. The site-directed mutagenesis of Thr-376 (KF707) to Asn-376 (LB400) in KF707 BP Dox resulted in the expansion of the range of biodegradable PCB congeners
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