nodD2 of Rhizobium sp. NGR234 is involved in the repression of the nodABC operon

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Abstract

Summary

Transcriptional regulators of the lysR family largely control the expression of bacterial symbiotic genes. Rhizobium sp. NGR234 contains at least four members of this family: two resemble nodD, while two others are more closely related to syrM. Part of the extremely broad host range of NGR234 can be attributed to nodD1, although the second gene shares a high degree of DNA sequence homology with nodD2 of R. fredii USDA191. A nodD2 mutant of NGR234 was constructed by insertional mutagenesis. This mutant (NGRΩnodD2) was deficient in nitrogen fixation on Vigna unguiculata and induced pseudonodules on Tephrosia vogelii. Several other host plants were tested, but no correlation could be drawn between the phenotype and nodule morphology. Moreover, nodD2 has a negative effect on the production of Nod factors: mutation of this gene results in a fivefold increase in Nod factor production. Surprisingly, while the structure of Nod factors from free-living cultures of NGRΩnodD2 remained unchanged, those from V. unguiculata nodules induced by the same strain are non-fucosylated and have a lower degree of oligomerization. In other words, developmental regulation of Nod factor production is also abolished in this mutant. Competitive RNA hybridizations, gene fusions and mobility shift assays confirmed that nodD2 downregulates expression of the nodABC operon.

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