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EMBO J. 1994 May 1;13(9):2139-49.

The Rhizobium meliloti regulatory nodD3 and syrM genes control the synthesis of a particular class of nodulation factors N-acylated by (omega-1)-hydroxylated fatty acids.

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Laboratoire de Pharmacologie et de Toxicologie Fondamentales, CNRS, Toulouse, France.


Rhizobia elicit the formation of nitrogen-fixing nodules on specific legume hosts. Rhizobium meliloti nodulation (nod) genes control a signal exchange between the two symbiotic partners during infection and the early steps of nodulation. The regulatory nodD1, nodD2 and nodD3 genes are involved in the specific perception of different plant and environmental signals and activate the transcription of the nod operons. Once activated, the structural nod genes specify the synthesis of diffusible lipo-oligosaccharides, the Nod factors, which signal back to the plant. R. meliloti Nod factors are sulfated chito-oligosaccharides which are mono-N-acylated by unsaturated C16 fatty acids or by a series of C18 to C26 (omega-1)-hydroxylated fatty acids. In this paper we show that the regulatory nodD3 gene and another symbiotic regulatory gene, syrM, which mediate bacterial responses to plant signals that differ from those involving nodD1 and nodD2, determine the synthesis of Nod factors with different acyl moieties. nodD3 and syrM are required for the synthesis of Nod factors N-acylated by the (omega-1)-hydroxylated fatty acids. This regulatory mechanism makes possible the qualitative adaptation of bacterial Nod signal production to plant signals in the course of the symbiotic process.

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