Journal Article

The <i>bacA</i> Gene Homolog, mlr7400, in <i>Mesorhizobium loti</i> MAFF303099 is Dispensable for Symbiosis with <i>Lotus japonicus</i> but Partially Capable of Supporting the Symbiotic Function of <i>bacA</i> in <i>Sinorhizobium meliloti</i>

Jumpei Maruya and Kazuhiko Saeki

in Plant and Cell Physiology

Published on behalf of Japanese Society of Plant Physiologists

Volume 51, issue 9, pages 1443-1452
Published in print September 2010 | ISSN: 0032-0781
Published online July 2010 | e-ISSN: 1471-9053 | DOI:
The bacA Gene Homolog, mlr7400, in Mesorhizobium loti MAFF303099 is Dispensable for Symbiosis with Lotus japonicus but Partially Capable of Supporting the Symbiotic Function of bacA in Sinorhizobium meliloti

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  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular and Cell Biology
  • Plant Sciences and Forestry


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Establishment of rhizobium–legume symbiosis requires a series of mutual authentication, which might involve bacterial evasion of host defense. One such evasion-related genes is Sinorhizobium meliloti bacA that is essential for bacteroid formation. BacA is a transmembrane protein highly similar to Escherichia coli SbmA, a predicted transporter, and has homologs even in animal pathogens, such as Brucella abortus in which the homolog contributes to effective survival in host macrophages. Despite such a significance in host–microbe interactions, studies on rhizobial BacA have been mostly performed with the Medicago–Sinorhizobium model system that forms indeterminate cylindrical nodules. Since Lotus japonicus–Mesorhizobium loti constitutes another model system that forms determinate globular nodules, we genetically analyzed the bacA homolog with the locus tag mlr7400 in M. loti MAFF303099. We found that the mlr7400-null mutant ML7400DK was able to establish quasi-healthy symbiosis with the Lotus plant with 50–80% nitrogen-fixing capacity. This dispensability for symbiosis was in contrast to the indispensability of S. meliloti BacA for symbiosis. However, free-living phenotypes of ML7400DK paralleled those of known bacA mutants, i.e. ML7400DK showed decreased sensitivity to the antibiotics bleomycin and gentamicin as well as increased sensitivity to membrane-disturbing reagents such as SDS. Conservation of the free-living function between Mlr7400 protein and S. meliloti BacA was further confirmed by heterologous complementation experiments. Although simple introduction of mlr7400 into the S. meliloti bacA mutant did not increase the symbiotic capacity at all, a significant but marginal increase was obtained when mlr7400 was fused to the S. meliloti bacA promoter. These findings might indicate currently progressing evolutionary specialization among BacA–SbmA proteins.

Keywords: BacA; Bleomycin; Mesorhizobium loti; Nitrogen fixaion; Symbiosis

Journal Article.  5650 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Biochemistry ; Molecular and Cell Biology ; Plant Sciences and Forestry

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