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Involvement of the Sinorhizobium meliloti leuA gene in activation of nodulation genes by NodD1 and luteolin

Sanjuan-Pinilla, J.M., Munoz, S., Nogales, J., Olivares, J., Sanjuan, J.
Archives of microbiology 2002 v.178 no.1 pp. 36-44
physiological state, leucine, biosynthesis, rhizosphere, auxotrophs, symbiosis, gene activation, Medicago sativa, Ensifer meliloti, alfalfa, biochemical pathways, luteolin, genes, plant response, transactivators, nodulation, roots
The role of leucine biosynthesis by Sinorhizobium meliloti in the establishment of nitrogen-fixing symbiosis with alpha (Medicago sativa) was investigated. The leuA gene from S. meliloti, encoding alpha-isopropylmalate synthase, which catalyses the first specific step in the leucine biosynthetic pathway, was characterized. S. meliloti LeuA- mutants were Leu auxotrophs and lacked alpha-isopropylmalate synthase activity. In addition, leuA auxotrophs were unable to nodulate alfalfa. Alfalfa roots did not seem to secrete enough leucine to support growth of leucine auxotrophs in the rhizosphere. Thus, this growth limitation probably imposes the inability to initiate symbiosis. However, in addition to the leucine auxotrophy, leuA strains were impaired in activation of nodulation genes by the transcriptional activator NodD1 in response to the plant flavone luteolin. By contrast, nod gene activation by NodD3, which does not involve plant-derived inducers, was unaffected. Our results suggest that a leucine-related metabolic intermediate may be involved in activation of nodulation genes by NodD1 and luteolin. This kind of control could be of relevance as a way to link bacterial physiological status to the response to plant signals and initiation of symbiosis.