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Gene. 1996 Nov 7;179(1):83-8.

The sensing of plant signal molecules by Agrobacterium: genetic evidence for direct recognition of phenolic inducers by the VirA protein.

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Department of Microbiology, University of Washington, Seattle 98195-7242, USA.


The virulence (vir) genes of Agrobacterium tumefaciens are induced by low-molecular-weight phenolic compounds and monosaccharides through a two-component regulatory system consisting of the VirA and VirG proteins. Although it is clear that the monosaccharides require binding to a periplasmic binding protein before they can interact with the sensor VirA protein, it is not certain whether the phenolic compounds also interact with a binding protein or directly interact with the sensor protein. To shed light on this question, we tested the vir-inducing abilities of several different phenolic compounds using two wild-type strains of A. tumefaciens, KU12 and A6. We found that several compounds such as 4-hydroxyacetophone and p-coumaric acid induced the vir of KU12, but not A6. On the other hand, acetosyringone and several other phenolic compounds induced the vir of A6, but not KU12. By transferring different Ti plasmids into isogenic chromosomal backgrounds, we showed that the phenolic sensing determinant is associated with the Ti plasmid. Subcloning of the Ti plasmid indicated that the virA locus determines which phenolic compounds can function as vir inducers. These results suggest that VirA directly senses the phenolic compounds for vir activation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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