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J Bacteriol. 1997 Nov;179(22):6887-93.

Expression of thiamin biosynthetic genes (thiCOGE) and production of symbiotic terminal oxidase cbb3 in Rhizobium etli.

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  • 1Departamento de Biología Molecular de Plantas, Instituto de Biotecnología, U.N.A.M., Cuernavaca, Morelos, México.


In this paper we report the cloning and sequence analysis of four genes, located on plasmid pb, which are involved in the synthesis of thiamin in Rhizobium etli (thiC, thiO, thiG, and thiE). Two precursors, 4-methyl-5-(beta-hydroxyethyl)thiazole monophosphate and 4-amino-5-hydroxymethylpyrimidine pyrophosphate, are coupled to form thiamin monophosphate, which is then phosphorylated to make thiamin pyrophosphate. The first open reading frame (ORF) product, of 610 residues, has significant homology (69% identity) with the product of thiC from Escherichia coli, which is involved in the synthesis of hydroxymethylpyrimidine. The second ORF product, of 327 residues, is the product of a novel gene denoted thiO. A protein motif involved in flavin adenine dinucleotide binding was found in the amino-terminal part of ThiO; also, residues involved in the catalytic site of D-amino acid oxidases are conserved in ThiO, suggesting that it catalyzes the oxidative deamination of some intermediate of thiamin biosynthesis. The third ORF product, of 323 residues, has significant homology (38% identity) with ThiG from E. coli, which is involved in the synthesis of the thiazole. The fourth ORF product, of 204 residues, has significant homology (47% identity) with the product of thiE from E. coli, which is involved in the condensation of hydroxymethylpyrimidine and thiazole. Strain CFN037 is an R. etli mutant induced by a single Tn5mob insertion in the promoter region of the thiCOGE gene cluster. The Tn5mob insertion in CFN037 occurred within a 39-bp region which is highly conserved in all of the thiC promoters analyzed and promotes constitutive expression of thiC. Primer extension analysis showed that thiC transcription in strain CFN037 originates within the Tn5 element. Analysis of c-type protein content and expression of the fixNOQP operon, which codes for the symbiotic terminal oxidase cbb3, revealed that CFN037 produces the cbb3 terminal oxidase. These data show a direct relationship between expression of thiC and production of the cbb3 terminal oxidase. This is consistent with the proposition that a purine-related metabolite, 5-aminoimidazole-4-carboxamide ribonucleotide, is a negative effector of the production of the symbiotic terminal oxidase cbb3 in R. etli.

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