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N-Deacetylation of Sinorhizobium meliloti Nod Factors Increases Their Stability in the Medicago sativa Rhizosphere and Decreases Their Biological Activity

January 2000 , Volume 13 , Number  1
Pages  72 - 79

Christian Staehelin , 1 Michael Schultze , 1 Ken Tokuyasu , 2 Véréna Poinsot , 3 Jean-Claude Promé , 3 éva Kondorosi , 1 and ád´m Kondorosi 1

1Institut des Sciences Végétales, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Avenue de la Terrasse, F-91198 Gif-sur-Yvette Cedex, France; 2National Food Research Institute, Tsukuba, Ibaraki 305, Japan; 3Laboratoire des IMRCP, UMR 5623, Université Paul Sabatier, 118 Route de Narbonne, 31062 Toulouse Cedex, France


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Accepted 24 September 1999.

Nod factors excreted by rhizobia are signal molecules that consist of a chitin oligomer backbone linked with a fatty acid at the nonreducing end. Modifications of the Nod factor structures influence their stability in the rhizosphere and their biological activity. To test the function of N-acetyl groups in Nod factors, NodSm-IV(C16:2,S) from Sinorhizobium meliloti was enzymatically N-deacetylated in vitro with purified chitin deacetylase from Colletotrichum lindemuthianum. A family of partially and completely deacetylated derivatives was produced and purified. The most abundant chemical structures identified by mass spectrometry were GlcN(C16:2)-GlcNAc-GlcNH2-GlcNAc(OH)(S), GlcN(C16:2)-GlcNAc-GlcNH2-GlcNH2(OH)(S), and GlcN(C16:2)-GlcNH2-GlcNH2-GlcNH2(OH)(S). In contrast to NodSm-IV(C16:2,S), the purified N-deacetylated derivatives were stable in the rhizosphere of Medicago sativa, indicating that the N-acetyl groups make the carbohydrate moiety of Nod factors accessible for glycosyl hydrolases of the host plant. The N-deacetylated derivatives displayed only a low level of activity in inducing root hair deformation. Furthermore, the N-deacetylated molecules were not able to stimulate Nod factor degradation by M. sativa roots, a response elicited by active Nod factors. These data show that N-acetyl groups of Nod factors are required for biological activity.


Additional keyword: lipo-chitooligosaccharides.

© 2000 The American Phytopathological Society