Laboratoire de Biologie Moléculaire des Relations Plantes-Microorganismes, CNRS-INRA, BP 27, 31326 Castanet-Tolosan Cédex, France
MtN6 belongs to a series of cDNA clones representing Medicago truncatula genes transcriptionally activated during nodulation by Sinorhizobium meliloti (P. Gamas, F. de Carvalho Niebel, N. Lescure, and J. V. Cullimore, Mol. Plant-Microbe Interact. 9:233--242, 1996). We show here by in situ hybridization that MtN6 transcripts specifically accumulate first at very localized regions in the outer root cell layers, corresponding to outer cortical cells containing preinfection threads. At later stages, MtN6 expression is observed ahead of growing infection threads, including in the infection zone of mature root nodules. Interestingly, regulation of MtN6 is clearly distinct from that of other early nodulins expressed in the same region of the nodule, in terms of response to bacterial symbiotic mutants and to purified Nod factors. We thus suggest that MtN6 represents the first specific marker of a pathway involved in preparation to infection, which is at least partly controlled by Nod factors. Finally, we discuss the intriguing sequence homology shown by MtN6 to a protein from Emericella (Aspergillus) nidulans, FluG, that plays a key role in controlling the organogenesis of conidiophores (B. N. Lee and T. H. Adams, Genes Dev. 8:641--651, 1994).