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Three Genes Encoding for Putative Methyl- and Acetyltransferases Map Adjacent to the wzm and wzt Genes and Are Essential for O-Antigen Biosynthesis in Rhizobium etli CE3

December 2003 , Volume 16 , Number  12
Pages  1,085 - 1,093

I. Lerouge , 1 C. Verreth , 1 J. Michiels , 1 R. W. Carlson , 2 A. Datta , 2 M.-Y. Gao , 2 and J. Vanderleyden 1

1Centre of Microbial and Plant Genetics, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Kasteelpark Arenberg 20, Heverlee B-3001, Belgium; 2Complex Carbohydrate Research Center, University of Georgia, Athens 30602, U.S.A.

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Accepted 25 August 2003.

The elucidation of the structure of the O-antigen of Rhizo-bium etli CE3 predicts that the R. etli CE3 genome must contain genes encoding acetyl- and methyltransferases to confer the corresponding modifications to the O-antigen. We identified three open reading frames (ORFs) upstream of wzm, encoding the membrane component of the O-antigen transporter and located in the lpsα-region of R. etli CE3. The ORFs encode two putative acetyltransferases with similarity to the CysE-LacA-LpxA-NodL family of acetyl-transferases and one putative methyltransferase with sequence motifs common to a wide range of S-adenosyl-L-methionine-dependent methyltransferases. Mutational analysis of the ORFs encoding the putative acetyltrans-ferases and methyltransferase revealed that the acetyl and methyl decorations mediated by these specific enzymes are essential for O-antigen synthesis. Composition analysis and high performance anion exchange chromatography analysis of the lipopolysaccharides (LPSs) of the mutants show that all of these LPSs contain an intact core region and lack the O-antigen polysaccharide. The possible role of these transferases in the decoration of the O-antigen of R. etli is discussed.

Additional keywords: lipopolysaccharide (LPS).

© 2003 The American Phytopathological Society