Laboratoire de Pathologie Végétale, INA P-G/ INRA, 16 rue Claude Bernard 75231 Paris cédex 05, France
Low iron availability is a triggering signal for coordinated expression of the genes encoding pectate lyases PelB, PelC, PelD, and PelE, and chrysobactin iron transport functions, which are two main determinants of phytopathogenicity of the Erwinia chrysanthemi strain 3937. The possible implication of the ferric uptake regulation (Fur) protein in this process was investigated. The E. chrysanthemi fur gene was cloned by functional complementation of an Escherichia coli fur mutant and sequenced. The 444-bp open reading frame identified was found to code for a protein highly similar to the E. coli Fur regulator. An E. chrysanthemi fur null mutant was constructed by reverse genetics. This mutant showed altered growth capacity and reduced pathogenicity on African violets. In a fur background, transcriptional lacZ fusions to genes belonging to the E. chrysanthemi high affinity iron transport systems were constitutively expressed. Transcription of the pelA, pelD, and pelE genes was analyzed, using fusions to the uidA reporter gene. Iron availability and a fur mutation did not influence the expression of pelA. In the presence of iron, pelD and pelE transcription levels were higher in the fur mutant than in the parental strain. Furthermore, iron deficiency stimulated the expression of both fusions in the fur mutant. These findings indicate that, in E. chrysanthemi 3937, (i) Fur negatively controls iron transport and genes encoding PelD and PelE, and (ii) additional factor(s) mediate iron regulation of the pel genes.