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Summary

The substrate specificity of the two polymerases (PhaC1 and PhaC2) involved in the biosynthesis of medium-chain-length poly-hydroxyalkanoates (mcl PHAs) in Pseudomonas putida U has been studied in vivo. For these kind of experiments, two recombinant strains derived from a genetically engineered mutant in which the whole pha locus had been deleted (P. putida U Δpha) were employed. These bacteria, which expresses only phaC1 (P. putida U Δpha pMC-phaC1) or only phaC2 (P. putida U Δpha pMC-phaC2), accumulated different PHAs in function of the precursor supplemented to the culture broth. Thus, the P. putida U Δpha pMC-phaC1 strain was able to synthesize several aliphatic and aromatic PHAs when hexanoic, heptanoic, octanoic decanoic, 5-phenylvaleric, 6-phenylhexanoic, 7-phenylheptanoic, 8-phenyloctanoic or 9-phenylnonanoic acid were used as precursors; the highest accumulation of polymers was observed when the precursor used were decanoic acid (aliphatic PHAs) or 6-phenylhexanoic acid (aromatic PHAs). However, although it synthesizes similar aliphatic PHAs (the highest accumulation was observed when hexanoic acid was the precursor) the other recombinant strain (P. putida U Δpha pMC-phaC2) only accumulated aromatic PHAs when the monomer to be polymerized was 3-hydroxy-5-phenylvaleryl-CoA. The possible influence of the putative three-dimensional structures on the different catalytic behaviour of PhaC1 and PhaC2 is discussed.