Demethylation and degradation of phenylmethylethers by the sulfide-methylating homoacetogenic bacterium strain TMBS 4

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Colleges, School and Institutes


Biochemical studies on anaerobic phenylmethylether cleavage by homoacetogenic bacteria-have been hampered so far by the complexity of the reaction chain involving methyl transfer to acetyl-CoA synthase and subsequent methyl group carbonylation to acetyl-CoA. Strain TMBS 4 differs from other demethylating homoacetogenic bacteria in using sulfide as a methyl acceptor, thereby forming methanethiol and dimethylsulfide. Growing and resting cells of strain TMBS 4 used alternatively CO2 as a precursor of the methyl acceptor CO for homoacetogenic acetate formation. Demethylation was inhibited by propyl iodide and reactivated by light, indicating involvement of a corrinoid-dependent methyltransferase. Strain TMBS 4 contained ca. 750 nmol g dry mass-1 of a corrinoid tentatively identified as 5-hydroxy-benzimidazolyl cobamide. A photometric assay for measuring the demethylation activity in cell extracts was developed based on the formation of a yellow complex of Ti3+ with 5-hydroxyvanillate produced from syringate by demethylation. In cell extracts, the methyltransfer reaction from methoxylated aromatic compounds to sulfide or methanethiol depended on reductive activation by Ti3+. ATP and Mg2+ together greatly stimulated this reductive activation without being necessary for the demethylation reaction itself. The specific activity of the transmethylating enzyme system increased proportionally with protein concentration up to 3 mg ml-1 reaching a constant level of 20 nmol min-1 mg-1 at protein concentrations greater-than-or-equal-to 10 mg ml-1. The specific rate of activation increased in a non-linear manner with protein concentration. Strain TMBS 4 degraded gallate, the product of sequential demethylations, to 3 acetate through the phloroglucinol pathway as found earlier with ⬚Pelobacter acidigallici⬚.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)308-315
Number of pages8
JournalArchives of Microbiology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1993