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The Sinorhizobium meliloti EmrAB Efflux System Is Regulated by Flavonoids Through a TetR-Like Regulator (EmrR)

April 2014 , Volume 27 , Number  4
Pages  379 - 387

Silvia Rossbach,1,2 Kati Kunze,1 Susann Albert,1 Susanne Zehner,1 and Michael Göttfert1

1Institute of Genetics, TU Dresden, 01062 Dresden, Germany; 2Department of Biological Sciences, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, MI 49008-5410, U.S.A.

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Accepted 4 November 2013.

The divergently oriented Sinorhizobium meliloti emrAB (SMc03168 and SMc03167) and emrR (SMc03169) genes are predicted to encode an efflux system of the major facilitator superfamily and a TetR-like transcriptional regulator, respectively. The transcription of the emrA gene was found to be inducible by flavonoids, including luteolin and apigenin, which are known inducers of the nodulation genes in S. meliloti. Interestingly, quercetin, which does not induce nodulation genes, was also a potent inducer of emrA, indicating that NodD is not directly involved in regulation of emrA. The likely regulator of emrAB is EmrR, which binds to palindrome-like sequences in the intergenic region. Several modifications of the palindromes, including an increase of the spacing between the two half sites, prevented binding of EmrR. Binding was also impaired by the presence of luteolin. Mutations in emrA had no obvious effect on symbiosis. This was in contrast to the emrR mutant, which exhibited a symbiotic deficiency with Medicago sativa. Conserved binding sites for TetR-like regulators within the intergenic regions between the emrAB and emrR genes were identified in many symbiotic and pathogenic members of the order Rhizobiales.

© 2014 The American Phytopathological Society