Max Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology, Am Mühlenberg 1, 14476 Golm, Germany
Previously, we determined the N-terminal amino acid sequences of a number of putative peribacteroid membrane proteins from soybean. Here, we report the cloning of a gene, GmN6L, that encodes one of these proteins. The protein encoded by GmN6L is similar in sequence to MtN6, an early nodulin expressed in Medicago truncatula roots in response to infection by Sinorhizobium meliloti. The GmN6L gene was strongly expressed in mature nodules but not in other plant organs. GmN6L protein was first detected 2 weeks after inoculation with Bradyrhizobium japonicum and was limited to the infected zone of nodules. GmN6L protein was found in symbiosomes isolated from mature soybean nodules, both as a soluble protein and as a peripheral membrane protein bound to the peribacteroid membrane. These data indicate that GmN6L is a late nodulin, which is not involved in the infection process. Homology between GmN6L and FluG, a protein involved in signaling in Aspergillus nidulans, suggests that GmN6L may play a role in communication between the host and microsymbionts during symbiotic nitrogen fixation.