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Mol Microbiol. 1997 Jun;24(6):1119-29.

Sulphation of Rhizobium sp. NGR234 Nod factors is dependent on noeE, a new host-specificity gene.

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LBMPS, Université de Genève, Chambesy/Genève, Switzerland.


Rhizobia secrete specific lipo-chitooligosaccharide signals (LCOs) called Nod factors that are required for infection and nodulation of legumes. In Rhizobium sp. NGR234, the reducing N-acetyl-D-glucosamine of LCOs is substituted at C6 with 2-O-methyl-L-fucose which can be acetylated or sulphated. We identified a flavonoid-inducible locus on the symbiotic plasmid pNGR234a that contains a new nodulation gene, noeE, which is required for the sulphation of NGR234 Nod factors (NodNGR). noeE was identified by conjugation into the closely related Rhizobium fredii strain USDA257, which produces fucosylated but non-sulphated Nod factors (NodUSDA). R. fredii transconjugants producing sulphated LCOs acquire the capacity to nodulate Calopogonium caeruleum. Furthermore, mutation of noeE (NGRdelta noeE) abolishes the production of sulphated LCOs and prevents nodulation of Pachyrhizus tuberosus. The sulphotransferase activity linked to NoeE is specific for fucose. In contrast, the sulphotransferase NodH of Rhizobium meliloti seems to be less specific than NoeE, because its introduction into NGRdelta noeE leads to the production of a mixture of LCOs that are sulphated on C6 of the reducing terminus and sulphated on the 2-O-methylfucose residue. Together, these findings show that noeE is a host-specificity gene which probably encodes a fucose-specific sulphotransferase.

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