Research Article

Genetic expression of pobA and fabHB in Bacillus licheniformis M2-7 in the presence of benzo[a]pyrene


Bacillus licheniformis M2-7 is a heat-resistant bacterium able to biotransform polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. It can transform a wide range of these compounds as naphthalene, phenanthrene, pyrene and benzo[a]pyrene. Benzo[a]pyrene is a polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon of high molecular weight considered as potentially toxic and carcinogenic for humans. Aiming to discover the genes involved in the biotransformation of benzo[a]pyrene, we made a B. licheniformis M2-7 genomic library in E. coli. We isolated two E. coli strains that were able to grow in minimal salt medium supplemented with benzo[a]pyrene. From the analysis of the DNA fragments in the clones H23 and H38, we identified open reading frames coding for 5 possible genes, among them pobA and fabHB, which products are the enzymes 4-hydroxybenzoate 3-monooxygenase and the ketoacyl-ACP synthase III, respectively. To evaluate the role of these genes in the metabolism of benzo[a]pyrene in B. licheniformis M2-7, we estimated their relative expression through reverse transcription quantitative PCR. Finally, we observed that the genes pobA and fabHB were overexpressed after 3 h under induction with benzo[a]pyrene, suggesting that this strain could use these genes during the metabolism of this PAH, plus it does it in a faster time than that reported for other bacterial genera