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J Bacteriol. 1996 Apr;178(7):1800-8.

Characterization of the genes coding for the putative sigma factor AlgU and its regulators MucA, MucB, MucC, and MucD in Azotobacter vinelandii and evaluation of their roles in alginate biosynthesis.

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Departamento de Microbiología Molecular, Instituto de Biotecnología, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Mexico, Morelos, México.


The study of the biosynthesis of alginate, the exopolysaccharide produced by Azotobacter vinelandii and Pseudomonas aeruginosa, has biotechnological and medical significance. We report here the identification of the A. vinelandii genes coding for the putative sigma factor AlgU and its negative regulators MucA and MucB through the suppression of the highly mucoid phenotype of an A. vinelandii strain by a plasmid encoding MucA and MucB. The sequences of the A. vinelandii algU, mucA, and mucB genes are highly homologous to those of the corresponding P. aeruginosa genes, AlgU shows 93% identity, and MucA and MucB are 64.4 and 63.9% identical, respectively. Forming part of the same operon as algU, mucA, and mucB, two additional genes (mucC and mucD) were identified and sequenced; the product of the former gene is homologous to ORF4 of Photobacterium sp. strain SS9, and that of the latter gene belongs to the HtrA serine protease family. Interestingly, the nonmucoid A. vinelandii UW136 had a 0.9-kb insertion within the algU gene. A strong correlation between AlgU activity and alginate production by A. vinelandii was also found, as reflected in the level of algD transcription.

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