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Appl Environ Microbiol. 1992 Jun;58(6):1816-22.

Cell-associated pectinolytic and cellulolytic enzymes in Rhizobium leguminosarum biovar trifolii.

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Department of Microbiology, Michigan State University, East Lansing 48824.


The involvement of Rhizobium enzymes that degrade plant cell wall polymers has long been an unresolved question about the infection process in root nodule symbiosis. Here we report the production of enzymes from Rhizobium leguminosarum bv. trifolii that degrade carboxymethyl cellulose and polypectate model substrates with sensitive methods that reliably detect the enzyme activities: a double-layer plate assay, quantitation of reducing sugars with a bicinchoninate reagent, and activity gel electrophoresis-isoelectric focusing. Both enzyme activities were (i) produced commonly by diverse wild-type strains, (ii) cell bound with at least some of the activity associated with the cell envelope, and (iii) not changed appreciably by growth in the presence of the model substrates or a flavone that activates expression of nodulation (nod) genes on the resident symbiotic plasmid (pSym). Equivalent levels of carboxymethyl cellulase activity were found in wild-type strain ANU843 and its pSym-cured derivative, ANU845, consistent with previous results of Morales et al. (V. Morales, E. Martínez-Molina, and D. Hubbell, Plant Soil 80:407-415, 1984). However, polygalacturonase activity was lower in ANU845 and was not restored to wild-type levels in the recombinant derivative of pSym- ANU845 containing the common and host-specific nod genes within a 14-kb HindIII DNA fragment of pSym from ANU843 cloned on plasmid pRt032. Activity gel electrophoresis resolved three carboxymethyl cellulase isozymes of approximately 102, 56, and 33 kDa in cell extracts from ANU843. Isoelectric focusing activity gels revealed one ANU843 polygalacturonase isozyme with a pI of approximately 7.2. These studies show that R. leguminosarum bv. trifolii produces multiple enzymes that cleave glycosidic bonds in plant cell walls and that are cell bound.

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