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Plant Physiol. 1985 Apr;77(4):833-9.

Nodule-specific polypeptides from effective alfalfa root nodules and from ineffective nodules lacking nitrogenase.

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Department of Genetics, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02115.


In addition to leghemoglobin, at least nine nodule-specific polypeptides from the alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.)-Rhizobium meliloti symbiosis were identified by immune assay. Some of these polypeptides may be subunits of larger proteins but none appeared to be subunits of the same multimeric protein. All nine of the nodule-specific polypeptides were localized to within the plant cytosol; they were not found in extracts of bacteroids or in the peribacteroid space. At least one of these nodule-specific polypeptides was found to be antigenically related to nodule-specific polypeptides in pea and/or soybean. Ineffective nodules elicited by R. meliloti strains containing mutations in four different genes required for nitrogenase synthesis contained reduced concentrations of leghemoglobin and of several of the nodule-specific polypeptides. Other nodule-specific polypeptides were unaltered or actually enriched in the ineffective nodules. Many of the differences between the ineffective and effective nodules were apparent in nodules harvested shortly after the nodules became visible. These differences were greatly amplified in older nodules. When the four ineffective nodule types were compared to one another, there were clear quantitative differences in the concentrations of several of the nodule-specific polypeptides. These differences suggest that lack of a functional nitrogenase does not have a single direct effect on nodule development.


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