1LBMPS, Département de Biologie Végétale, Sciences III, 30 quai Ernest-Ansermet, University of Geneva, CH-1211 Geneva 4, Switzerland; 2Whistler Center for Carbohydrate Research, Department of Food Science, Purdue University, 1160 Food Science Building, West Lafayette, IN 47907-1160, U.S.A.
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Accepted 1 May 2004.
Formation of nitrogen-fixing nodules on legume roots by Rhizobium sp. NGR234 requires an array of bacterial factors, including nodulation outer proteins (Nops) secreted through a type III secretion system (TTSS). Secretion of Nops is abolished upon inactivation of ttsI (formerly y4xI), a protein with characteristics of two-component response regulators that was predicted to activate transcription of TTSS-related genes. During the symbiotic interaction, the phenotype of NGRΩttsI differs from that of a mutant with a nonfunctional secretion machine, however. This indicated that TtsI regulates the synthesis of other symbiotic factors as well. Conserved sequences, called tts boxes, proposed to act as binding sites for TtsI, were identified not only within the TTSS cluster but also in the promoter regions of i) genes predicted to encode homologs of virulence factors secreted by pathogenic bacteria, ii) loci involved in the synthesis of a rhamnose-rich component (rhamnan) of the lipopolysaccharides (LPS), and iii) open reading frames that play roles in plasmid partitioning. Transcription studies showed that TtsI and tts boxes are required for the activation of TTSS-related genes and those involved in rhamnose synthesis. Furthermore, extraction of polysaccharides revealed that inactivation of ttsI abolishes the synthesis of the rhamnan component of the LPS. The phenotypes of mutants impaired in TTSS-dependent protein secretion, rhamnan synthesis, or in both functions were compared to assess the roles of some of the TtsI-controlled factors during symbiosis.
© 2004 The American Phytopathological Society