Departamento de Biología. Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, 28049 Madrid, Spain
Sinorhizobium meliloti can produce two types of acidic exopolysaccharides, succinoglycan and galactoglucan, that are interchangeable for infection of alfalfa nodules. Strain SU47 and derivatives produce only succinoglycan, unless it grows under phosphate limitation or carries a mutation in either of two regulatory loci, mucR or expR. It has been proposed that MucR acts as a transcriptional repressor that blocks the expression of the exp genes responsible for galactoglucan production. Strain EFB1 simultaneously produces both exopolysaccharides. Heterologous expression of lacZ transcriptional fusions of the expE promoters has shown that genetic background is more important that promoter sequence for exp gene expression, since expE promoters from both strains are expressed at high level in EFB1 and not in SU47. We have found that mucR is present in mucoid and nonmucoid strains, and in EFB1 differs from SU47 in only one conservative amino acid change. MucR proteins from both strains are interchangeable. An mucR mutant of EFB1 cannot produce galactoglucan and does not express mucS.