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Mol Microbiol. 1994 Sep;13(5):821-31.

Structural identification of metabolites produced by the NodB and NodC proteins of Rhizobium leguminosarum.

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Institute of Molecular Plant Sciences, Leiden University, The Netherlands.


The Rhizobium nodulation genes nodABC are involved in the synthesis of lipo-chitin oligosaccharides. We have analysed the metabolites which are produced in vivo and in vitro by Rhizobium strains which express the single nodA, nodB and nodC genes or combinations of the three. In vivo radioactive labelling experiments, in which D-[1-14C]-glucosamine was used as a precursor, followed by mass spectrometric analysis of the purified radiolabelled metabolic products, showed that Rhizobium strains that only express the combination of the nodB and nodC genes do not produce lipo-chitin oligosaccharides but instead produce chitin oligomers (mainly pentamers) which are devoid of the N-acetyl group on the non-reducing terminal sugar residue (designated NodBC metabolites). Using the same procedure we have shown that when the nodL gene is expressed in addition to the nodBC genes the majority of metabolites contain an additional O-acetyl substituent on the non-reducing terminal sugar residue (designated NodBCL metabolites). The NodBC and NodBCL metabolites purified after in vivo labelling were compared with the radiolabelled metabolites produced in vitro by Rhizobium bacterial cell lysates to which UDP-N-acetyl-D-[U-14C]-glucosamine was added using thin-layer chromatography. The results show that the lysates of strains which expressed the nodBC or nodBCL genes can also produce NodBC and NodBCL metabolites. The same results were obtained when the NodB and NodC proteins were produced separately in two different strains. On the basis of these and other recent results, we propose that NodB is a chitin oligosaccharide deacetylase, NodC an N-acetylglucosaminyltransferase and, by default, NodA is involved in lipid attachment.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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