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Summary

Rhodococcus sp. strain TFB is a metabolic versatile bacterium able to grow on naphthalene as the only carbon and energy source. Applying proteomic, genetic and biochemical approaches, we propose in this paper that, at least, three coordinated but independently regulated set of genes are combined to degrade naphthalene in TFB. First, proteins involved in tetralin degradation are also induced by naphthalene and may carry out its conversion to salicylaldehyde. This is the only part of the naphthalene degradation pathway showing glucose catabolite repression. Second, a salicylaldehyde dehydrogenase activity that converts salicylaldehyde to salicylate is detected in naphthalene-grown cells but not in tetralin- or salicylate-grown cells. Finally, we describe the chromosomally located nag genes, encoding the gentisate pathway for salicylate conversion into fumarate and pyruvate, which are only induced by salicylate and not by naphthalene. This work shows how biodegradation pathways in Rhodococcus sp. strain TFB could be assembled using elements from different pathways mainly because of the laxity of the regulatory systems and the broad specificity of the catabolic enzymes.