from Yves Jouanneau, Florence Martin, Serge Krivobok and John C. Willison writing in Microbial Bioremediation of Non-metals: Current Research:
The first step in the biodegradation of PAHs by aerobic bacteria is catalyzed by metalloenzymes known as ring-hydroxylating dioxygenases (RHDs). Because of the hydrophobic nature and chemical resistance of PAHs, their initial attack by RHDs is a difficult reaction, which is critical to the whole degradation process. This chapter gives an overview of the current knowledge on the genetics, structure, catalytic mechanism and diversity of RHDs involved in PAH degradation. In the past decade, the crystal structures of 10 RHDs have been determined, giving insights into the mechanism of substrate recognition and regioselectivity of dioxygenation. The reaction catalyzed by the archetypal naphthalene dioxygenase has been investigated in detail, thus providing a better understanding of the RHD catalytic mechanism. Studies on the catabolic genes responsible for PAH degradation in several bacterial taxa have highlighted the great phylogenetic diversity of RHDs. The implementation of culture-independent methods has afforded means to further explore the environmental diversity of PAH-degrading bacteria and RHDs. Recent advances in this field now allow the in situ identification of bacteria responsible for pollutant removal. Further biotechnological developments based on microarrays and functional metagenomics should lead to the conception of molecular tools useful for the bioremediation of PAH-contaminated ecosystems.
Further reading: Microbial Bioremediation of Non-metals: Current Research