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Mol Microbiol. 2009 Dec;74(5):1223-37. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2958.2009.06931.x. Epub 2009 Oct 19.

Null mutations in Sinorhizobium meliloti exoS and chvI demonstrate the importance of this two-component regulatory system for symbiosis.

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Department of Biology, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, ON, Canada.


Exopolysaccharides, either succinoglycan or galactoglucan, are essential for the establishment of the symbiosis between Sinorhizobium meliloti and Medicago sativa (alfalfa). The ExoS/ChvI two-component regulatory system is known as a regulator of succinoglycan production but the genes that are directly regulated by ChvI have not been determined. Difficulty isolating exoS and chvI null mutants has prompted the suggestion that these genes are essential for S. meliloti viability. We have successfully isolated exoS and chvI null mutants using a merodiploid-facilitated strategy. We present evidence that the S. meliloti ExoS/ChvI two-component regulatory system is essential for symbiosis with alfalfa. Phenotypic analyses of exoS and chvI null mutant strains demonstrate that ExoS/ChvI controls both succinoglycan and galactoglucan production and is required for growth on over 21 different carbon sources. These new findings suggest that the ExoS/ChvI regulatory targets might not be the exo genes that are specific for succinoglycan biosynthesis but rather genes that have common influence on both succinoglycan and galactoglucan production. Other studied alpha-proteobacteria ExoS/ChvI orthologues are required for the bacteria to invade or persist in host cells and thus we present more evidence that this two-component regulatory system is essential for alpha-proteobacterial host interaction.

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