Molecular genetics of the genus Paracoccus: metabolically versatile bacteria with bioenergetic flexibility

S.C. Baker, Stuart J Ferguson, B. Ludwig, M D Page, O.-M.H. Richter, R J van Spanning

Research output: Contribution to JournalReview articleAcademicpeer-review


Paracoccus denitrificans and its near relative Paracoccus versutus (formerly known as Thiobacilllus versutus) have been attracting increasing attention because the aerobic respiratory system of P. denitrificans has long been regarded as a model for that of the mitochondrion, with which there are many components (e.g., cytochrome aa3 oxidase) in common. Members of the genus exhibit a great range of metabolic flexibility, particularly with respect to processes involving respiration. Prominent examples of flexibility are the use in denitrification of nitrate, nitrite, nitrous oxide, and nitric oxide as alternative electron acceptors to oxygen and the ability to use C1 compounds (e.g., methanol and methylamine) as electron donors to the respiratory chains. The proteins required for these respiratory processes are not constitutive, and the underlying complex regulatory systems that regulate their expression are beginning to be unraveled. There has been uncertainty about whether transcription in a member of the alpha-3 Proteobacteria such as P. denitrificans involves a conventional sigma70-type RNA polymerase, especially since canonical -35 and -10 DNA binding sites have not been readily identified. In this review, we argue that many genes, in particular those encoding constitutive proteins, may be under the control of a sigma70 RNA polymerase very closely related to that of Rhodobacter capsulatus. While the main focus is on the structure and regulation of genes coding for products involved in respiratory processes in Paracoccus, the current state of knowledge of the components of such respiratory pathways, and their biogenesis, is also reviewed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1046-78
Number of pages33
JournalMicrobiology and Molecular Biology Reviews
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1998


  • Base Sequence
  • Electron Transport
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial
  • Genes, Bacterial
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Oxygen Consumption
  • Paracoccus
  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review


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