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VIEW ARTICLE   |    DOI: 10.1094/MPMI-8-0576

Isolation of ropB, a Gene Encoding a 22-kDa Rhizobium leguminosarum Outer Membrane Protein. Henk P. Roest, Ine H. M. Mulders, Carel A. Wijffelman, and Ben J. J. Lugtenberg. Leiden University, Institute of Molecular Plant Sciences, Clusius Laboratory, Wassenaarseweg 64, 2333 AL Leiden, The Netherlands. MPMI 8:576-583. Accepted 22 March 1995. Copyright 1995 The American Phytopathological Society.

As judged from immunochemical detection, the levels of outer membrane antigen groups II and III of Rhizobium leguminosarum bv. viciae strain 248 decrease during bacteroid differentiation (R. A. de Maagd, R. de Rijk, I. H. M. Mulders, and B. J. J. Lugtenberg, J. Bacteriol. 171:1136-1142, 1989). Using a newly developed colony blot assay, a cosmid clone expressing the Mab8 epitope of the outer membrane antigen group II of R. l. bv. viciae strain 248 was selected in Rhizobium meliloti LPR2120. From this cosmid the gene encoding this epitope was cloned and characterized. An open reading frame of 636 nucleotides was found and predicted to encode a protein with a calculated molecular mass of 22.5 kDa. After subtraction of the predicted 23 amino acid signal peptide, a M(r), of 20.3 kDa was calculated for the mature protein. This gene, designated ropB, was not active in Escherichia coli under the control of its own promoter. The C-terminal amino acid of the protein is a phenylalanine residue which is required for efficient translocation of outer membrane proteins. Membrane spanning amphipathic beta-sheets are predicted to represent a major part of the secondary structure of the protein. A model of the topology of the protein is presented. We determined the start of transcription in order to analyze the promoter region. No homology was found with other known promoter sequences. The ropB gene appeared to be well-conserved in R. leguminosarum and Agrobacterium tumefaciens strains. An attempt was made to mimic the immunochemical decrease of RopB ex planta. Neither the various growth conditions tested nor the addition of nodule or plant extracts resulted in a reduction of the Mab8 epitope to bacteroid levels.