Eight mutants of Alcaligenes eutrophus defective in the intracellular accumulation of poly-beta-hydroxybutyric acid (PHB) were isolated after transposon Tn5 mutagenesis with the suicide vector pSUP5011. EcoRI fragments which harbor Tn5-mob were isolated from pHC79 cosmid gene banks. One of them, PPT1, was used as a probe to detect the intact 12.5-kilobase-pair EcoRI fragment PP1 in a lambda L47 gene bank of A. eutrophus genomic DNA. In six of these mutants (PSI, API, GPI, GPIV, GPV, and GPVI) the insertion of Tn5-mob was physically mapped within a region of approximately 1.2 kilobase pairs in PP1; in mutant API, cointegration of vector DNA has occurred. In two other mutants (GPII and GPIII), most probably only the insertion element had inserted into PP1. All PHB-negative mutants were completely impaired in the formation of active PHB synthase, which was measured by a radiometric assay. In addition, activities of beta-ketothiolase and of NADPH-dependent acetoacetyl coenzyme A (acetoacetyl-CoA) reductase were diminished, whereas the activity of NADPH-dependent acetoacetyl-CoA reductase was unaffected. In all PHB-negative mutants the ability to accumulate PHB was restored upon complementation in trans with PP1. The PHB-synthetic pathway of A. eutrophus was heterologously expressed in Escherichia coli. Recombinant strains of E. coli JM83 and K-12, which harbor pUC9-1::PP1, pSUP202::PP1, or pVK101::PP1, accumulated PHB up to 30% of the cellular dry weight. Crude extracts of these cells had significant activities of the enzymes PHB synthase, beta-ketothiolase, and NADPH-dependent acetoacetyl-CoA reductase. Therefore, PP1 most probably encodes all three genes of the PHB-synthetic pathway in A. eutrophus. In addition to PHB-negative mutants, we isolated mutants which accumulate PHB at a much lower rate than the wild type does. These PHB-leaky mutants exhibited activities of all three PHB-synthetic enzymes; Tn5-mob had not inserted into PP1, and the phenotype of the wild type could not be restored with fragment PP1. The rationale for this mutant type remains unknown
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