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Nod Factors of Rhizobium leguminosarum bv. viciae and Their Fucosylated Derivatives Stimulate a Nod Factor Cleaving Activity in Pea Roots and Are Hydrolyzed In Vitro by Plant Chitinases at Different Rates

August 2000 , Volume 13 , Number  8
Pages  799 - 807

Alexandra O. Ovtsyna , 1 Michael Schultze , 2 Igor A. Tikhonovich , 1 Herman P. Spaink , 3 éva Kondorosi , 2 ádám Kondorosi , 2 and Christian Staehelin 2

1All-Russia Research Institute for Agricultural Microbiology, Podbelsky shosee 3, 189620, St. Petersburg, Pushkin - 8, Russia; 2Institut des Sciences Végétales, CNRS, Avenue de la Terrasse, F-91198 Gif-sur-Yvette Cedex, France; 3Institute of Molecular Plant Sciences, Clusius Laboratory, Leiden University, Wassenaarseweg 64, 2333 AL Leiden, The Netherlands

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Accepted 13 April 2000.

Nod factors (NFs) are rhizobial lipo-chitooligosaccharide signals that trigger root nodule development in legumes. Modifications of NF structures influence their biological activity and affect their degradation by plant chitinases. Nodulation of certain pea cultivars by Rhizobium leguminosarum bv. viciae requires modification of NFs at the reducing end by either an O-acetyl or a fucosyl group. Fucosylated NFs were produced by an in vitro reaction with NodZ fucosyltransferase and purified. Their biological activity on pea was tested by measuring their capacity to stimulate the activity of a hydrolase that cleaves NFs. Non-modified and fucosylated NFs displayed this activity at nano- to picomolar concentrations, while a sulfated NF from Sinorhizobium meliloti was inactive. In an additional series of experiments, the stability of non-modified and fucosylated NFs in the presence of purified tobacco chitinases was compared. The presence of the fucosyl group affected the degradation rates and the accessibility of specific cleavage sites on the chitooligosaccharide backbone. These results suggest that the fucosyl group in NFs also weakens the interaction of NFs with certain chitinases or chitinase-related proteins in pea roots.

© 2000 The American Phytopathological Society