CIcR-based biosensing system in the detection of cis-dihydroxylated (chloro-)biphenyls

Jessika Feliciano, Shifen Xu, Xiyuan Guan, Hans Joachim Lehmler, Leonidas G. Bachas, Sylvia Daunert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are a group of organic pollutants that are persistent when released into the environment. Among the metabolites of PCBs, dihydroxylated PCBs are also considered as toxic compounds. Various studies have shown that dihydroxylated PCBs affect the reproductive, immune, nervous, and endocrine systems. Detection of these chemicals in environmental and biological samples could provide first-hand information about their levels and lead to a better understanding of their role in toxicity. To that end, we developed a sensing system for the detection of dihydroxylated PCBs based on the clc operon. The Pseudomonas putida clc operon encodes a catabolic pathway for degradation of chlorocatechols, which are major metabolites of a large number of chlorinated compounds. In P. putida, the expression of these genes is regulated by a protein encoded by the gene clcR located upstream from the clcABD genes. We demonstrate here for the first time that dihydroxy PCBs can also induce the clc operon. Our sensing system employs P. putida bacteria harboring a plasmid in which the reporter gene, lacZ, is under the control of the regulatory protein ClcR. Consequently, when exposed to dihydroxy PCBs, the bacteria express β-galactosidase in an amount related to the concentration of the corresponding dihydroxy PCB. Various dihydroxylated PCBs, differing in the number and position of chlorines and in the position of hydroxyls, were tested for their ability to induce expression of β-galactosidase. Detection limits as low as 1×10-6 mol L-1 were obtained for various dihydroxylated PCBs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)807-813
Number of pages7
JournalAnalytical and bioanalytical chemistry
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jul 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • β-galactosidase
  • Clc operon
  • PCB
  • Reporter gene
  • Whole-cell biosensor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Clinical Biochemistry


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