In this work, we have shown that Novosphingobium tardaugens
NBRC 16725 (strain ARI-1), a bacterial strain that was isolated due to its capacity to mineralize the estrogenic endocrine compound 17β-estradiol, is also able to mineralize testosterone, the androgenic endocrine compound. Using in silico analysis, we predicted a new putative steroid degradation (SD) gene cluster in strain ARI-1, which resembles genes involved in testosterone degradation in Comamonas testosteroni
and other testosterone degrading bacteria like Actinobacteria (like Rhodococcus
genera) although with significant differences in gene organization. A whole transcriptomic analysis of N. tardaugens
revealed that testosterone produces a limited induction of the genes of the SD cluster that show a high basal expression in its absence. The 3β/17β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase involved in the first metabolic step of testosterone degradation was identified by using genetic and biochemical approaches. The construction of knockout mutant strains in the genes of the SD cluster together with in silico analyses suggests the existence of gene redundancy in the genome of N. tardaugens.
This work will expand the knowledge about the metabolic pathways and biotransformation capabilities of a Gram-negative bacterium that could become a new model system in the bacterial steroid degradation field.
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