The alkBFGHJKL and alkST operons encode enzymes that allow Pseudomonas putida (oleovorans) to metabolize alkanes. In this paper we report the nucleotide sequence of a 4592 bp region of the alkBFGHJKL operon encoding the AlkJ, AlkK and AlkL polypeptides.
The alkJ gene encodes a protein of 59 kilodaltons. The predicted amino acid sequence shows significant homology with four flavin proteins: choline dehydrogenase, a glucose dehydrogenase and two oxidases. AlkJ is membrane-bound and converts aliphatic medium-chain-length alcohols into aldehydes. The properties of AlkJ suggest that it is linked to the electron transfer chain. AlkJ is necessary for growth on alkanes only in P. putida alcohol dehydrogenase (AlcA) mutants.
AlkK is homologous to a range of proteins which act by an ATP-dependent covalent binding of AMP to their substrate. This list includes the acetate, coumarate and long-chain fatty acid CoA ligases. The alkK gene complements a fadD mutation in Escherichia coli, which shows that it indeed encodes an acyl-CoA synthetase. AlkK is a 60 kilodalton protein located in the cytoplasm.
AlkL is homologous to OmpW, a Vibrio cholerae outer membrane protein of unknown function, and a hypothetical polypeptide encoded by ytt4 in E. coli. AlkL, OmpW and Ytt4 all have a signal peptide and end with a sequence characteristic of outer membrane proteins. The alkL gene product was found in the outer membrane of E. coli W3110 containing the alk-genes. The alkL gene can be deleted without a clear effect on growth rate. Its function remains unknown.
The G+C content of the alkJKL genes is 45%, identical to that of the alkBFGH genes, and significantly lower than the G+C content of the OCT-plasmid and the P. putida chromosome.