An open-reading-frame fragment of a Methylobacterium sp. strain AM1 gene (moxF) encoding a portion of the methanol dehydrogenase structural protein has been used as a hybridization probe to detect similar sequences in a variety of methylotrophic bacteria. This hybridization was used to isolate clones containing putative moxF genes from two obligate methanotrophic bacteria, Methylococcus capsulatus Bath and Methylomonas albus BG8. The identity of these genes was confirmed in two ways. A T7 expression vector was used to produce methanol dehydrogenase protein in Escherichia coli from the cloned genes, and in each case the protein was identified by immunoblotting with antiserum against the Methylomonas albus methanol dehydrogenase. In addition, a moxF mutant of Methylobacterium strain AM1 was complemented to a methanol-positive phenotype that partially restored methanol dehydrogenase activity, using broad-host-range plasmids containing the moxF genes from each methanotroph. The partial complementation of a moxF mutant in a facultative serine pathway methanol utilizer by moxF genes from type I and type X obligate methane utilizers suggests broad functional conservation of the methanol oxidation system among gram-negative methylotrophs
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