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Sinorhizobium meliloti nfe (Nodulation Formation Efficiency) Genes Exhibit Temporal and Spatial Expression Patterns Similar to Those of Genes Involved in Symbiotic Nitrogen Fixation

June 2000 , Volume 13 , Number  6
Pages  583 - 591

Fernando M. García-Rodríguez 1 and Nicolás Toro 1

1Departamento de Microbiología del Suelo y Sistemas Simbióticos, Estación Experimental del Zaidín, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, Calle profesor Albareda 1, 18008 Granada, Spain


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Accepted 7 March 2000.

The nfe genes (nfeA, nfeB, and nfeD) are involved in the nodulation efficiency and competitiveness of the Sinorhizobium meliloti strain GR4 on alfalfa roots. The nfeA and nfeB genes are preceded by functional nif consensus sequences and NifA binding motifs. Here, we determined the temporal and spatial expression patterns of the nfe genes in symbiosis with alfalfa. Translational fusions of the nfe promoters with the gusA gene and reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction analyses indicate that they are expressed and translated within mature nitrogen-fixing nodules and not during early steps of nodule development. Within the nodules the three nfe genes exhibit a spatial expression pattern similar to that of genes involved in symbiotic nitrogen fixation. We show that nfeB and nfeD genes are expressed not only from their own promoters but also from the upstream nfe promoter sequences. Furthermore, with the use of specific antibodies the NfeB and NfeD proteins were detected within the root nodule bac-teroid fraction. Finally, NfeB was inmunolocalized in the bacteroid cell membrane whereas NfeD was detected in the bacteroid cytoplasm.



© 2000 The American Phytopathological Society