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Mol Gen Genet. 1998 Aug;259(2):161-71.

Exopolysaccharide (EPS) synthesis in Bradyrhizobium japonicum: sequence, operon structure and mutational analysis of an exo gene cluster.

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Philipps Universität Marburg, Fachbereich Biologie/Botanik, Marburg, Germany.


The nucleotide sequence of a 8330-bp DNA fragment from Bradyrhizobium japonicum 110spc4 was determined. Sequence analysis revealed that six ORFs were present and the deduced amino acid sequences were homologous to enzymes involved in exopolysaccharide (EPS) biosynthesis. The genes appear to be organized into at least four different operons. One gene was found to be homologous to exoB, which encodes a UDP-galactose 4'-epimerase. Other ORFs were homologous to UDP-hexose transferases and one ORF showed similarity to Sinorhizobium (Rhizobium) meliloti ExoP, which has been suggested to be involved in EPS chain-length determination. A set of deletion and insertion mutants was constructed and the resulting B. japonicum strains were tested for their symbiotic traits. Deletion mutant deltaP22, which lacks the C-terminal part of ExoP, the UDP-hexose transferase ExoT and the N-terminal part of ExoB, shows a delayed nodulation phenotype and induces symptoms of plant defense reactions; its EPS does not contain galactose and no high molecular weight fraction is synthesized. In contrast, insertion mutant EH3, which expresses an exoP gene product that is truncated in its putative periplasmic domain, produced an EPS containing both HMW and LMW fractions. However, the interaction of EH3 with soybeans was severely perturbed. As a rule, only the initial steps of nodule formation were observed.

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