Pseudomonas syringae pv. phaseolicola is the causal agent of the “halo blight” disease of beans. A key component in the development of the disease is a nonhost-specific toxin, Nδ-(N'-sulphodiaminophosphinyl)-ornithyl-alanyl-homoarginine, known as phaseolotoxin. The homoarginine residue in this molecule has been suggested to be the product of Larginine:lysine amidinotransferase activity, previously detected in extracts of P. syringae pv. phaseolicola grown under conditions of phaseolotoxin production. We report the isolation and characterization of an amidinotransferase gene (amtA) from P. syringae pv. phaseolicola coding for a polypeptide of 362 residues (41.36 kDa) and showing approximately 40% sequence similarity to Larginine:inosamine-phosphate amidinotransferase from three species of Streptomyces spp. and 50.4% with an Larginine:glycine amidinotransferase from human mitochondria. The cysteine, histidine, and aspartic acid residues involved in substrate binding are conserved. Furthermore, expression of the amtA and argK genes and phaseolotoxin production occurs at 18°C but not at 28°C. An amidinotransferase insertion mutant was obtained that lost the capacity to synthesize homoarginine and phaseolotoxin. These results show that the amtA gene isolated is responsible for the amidinotransferase activity detected previously and that phaseolotoxin production depends upon the activity of this gene.
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