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Genes Dev. 1995 Mar 15;9(6):714-29.

The Rhizobium meliloti groELc locus is required for regulation of early nod genes by the transcription activator NodD.

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  • 1Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Department of Biological Sciences, Stanford University, California 94305-5020, USA.


The molecular chaperones related to GroEL (hsp60, cpn60) interact with partially folded proteins and appear to assist them to attain active and correctly folded conformation. They are required for cell viability but are probably more important for some processes than for others. Through a random genetic search to find loci that are required for expression of the Rhizobium meliloti nod (nodulation) genes, we isolated a mutant (B4) defective in luteolin-dependent activation of nod gene expression, and found it carries a Tn5 insertion within a chromosomal groEL gene (groELc) located just downstream of a groESc gene. The groELc mutation affected activity of three related LysR-type activator proteins NodD1, NodD3, and SyrM; on plants, the mutants formed nodules late, and the nodules were Fix-. Hybridization and protein expression analysis show that a similar groESL locus (groESLa) maps to the Rm1021 megaplasmid pSyma. Southern blot analysis revealed additional, but less closely related sequences hybridizing to groELc and groESc probes elsewhere in the R. meliloti genome. Clones of groESLc and groESLa can each restore robust phage lambda growth on an Escherichia coli groE mutant. Likewise each clone can complement all of the phenotypes observed for B4 mutants; thus, the two appear to be functionally equivalent if expression is controlled. We determined that groELc is required for normal DNA binding of the NodD target sequence in R. meliloti. GroEL coimmunopurifies with NodD1 from R. meliloti, which suggests a direct physical association between these proteins. GroEL is thus probably involved in the folding or assembly of transcriptionally active NodD.

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