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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1992 Jan 1;89(1):192-6.

Rhizobium meliloti produces a family of sulfated lipooligosaccharides exhibiting different degrees of plant host specificity.

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Institut des Sciences Végétales, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Gif-sur-Yvette, France.


We have shown that a Rhizobium meliloti strain overexpressing nodulation genes excreted high amounts of a family of N-acylated and 6-O-sulfated N-acetyl-beta-1,4-D-glucosamine penta-, tetra-, and trisaccharide Nod factors. Either a C(16:2) or a C(16:3) acyl chain is attached to the nonreducing end subunit, whereas the sulfate group is bound to the reducing glucosamine. One of the tetrasaccharides is identical to the previously described NodRm-1 factor. The two pentasaccharides as well as NodRm-1 were purified and tested for biological activity. In the root hair deformation assay the pentasaccharides show similar activities on the host plants Medicago sativa and Melilotus albus and on the non-host plant Vicia sativa at a dilution of up to 0.01-0.001 microM, in contrast to NodRm-1, which displays a much higher specific activity for Medicago and Melilotus than for Vicia. The active concentration range of the pentasaccharides is more narrow on Medicago than on Melilotus and Vicia. In addition to root hair deformation, the different Nod factors were shown to induce nodule formation on M. sativa. We suggest that the production of a series of active signal molecules with different degrees of specificity might be important in controlling the symbiosis of R. meliloti with several different host plants or under different environmental conditions.

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