Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Document Type



Arts and Sciences



First Advisor

Dr. Yinan Wei


Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are persistent organic pollutants. Due to their properties, PCBs accumulate in the food-chain and post a threat to the health of human beings and wildlife. Hydroxylated PCBs (OH-PCBs) are oxidative metabolites of PCBs and are more hydrophilic than their parent PCBs. One of the best approaches to break down these contaminants is through bioremediation, which is an environmental friendly process that uses microorganisms to restore natural environment.

Towards this goal, we have investigated the toxicity and accumulation of PCBs and OH-PCBs in a Gram-negative bacterium, Escherichia coli. We have also determined the role played by a primary multidrug efflux transporter AcrB on the accumulation of PCBs and OH-PCBs in bacterial cell. We found that one of the PCBs tested was toxic to E. coli, while different OH-PCBs have different levels of toxicity; the acrB knockout strain accumulated significantly more PCBs and OH-PCBs than the wild-type strain, suggesting that these compounds are substrates of the efflux pump; higher cytoplasmic concentrations of OH-PCBs were also observed in the acrB knockout strain using the biosensors. Based on these observations, we conclude that both PCBs and OH-PCBs are substrates of protein AcrB. Therefore the efflux activities of multidrug resistant pumps in Gram-negative bacteria should be considered while designing bioremediation approaches.

Included in

Chemistry Commons