Identification and characterization of KpsS, a novel polysaccharide sulphotransferase in Mesorhizobium loti

Guy E. Townsend, David H. Keating

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Plants enter into symbiotic relationships with bacteria that allow survival in nutrient-limiting environments. The bacterium Mesorhizobium loti enters into a symbiosis with the legume host, Lotus japonicus, which results in the formation of novel plant structures called root nodules. The bacteria colonize the nodules, and are internalized into the cytoplasm of the plant cells, where they reduce molecular dinitrogen for the plant. Symbiosis between M. loti and L. japonicus requires bacterial synthesis of secreted and cell-surface polysaccharides. We previously reported the identification of an unusual sulphate-modified form of capsular polysaccharide (KPS) in M. loti. To better understand the physiological function of sulphated KPS, we isolated the sulphotransferase responsible for KPS sulphation from M. loti extracts, determined its amino acid sequence and identified the corresponding M. loti open reading frame, mll7563 (which we have named kpsS). We demonstrated that partially purified KpsS functions as a fucosyl sulphotransferase in vitro. Furthermore, mutants deficient for this gene exhibit a lack of KPS sulphation and a decreased rate of nodule formation on L. japonicus. Interestingly, the kpsS gene product shares no significant amino acid similarity with previously identified sulphotransferases, but exhibited sequence identity to open reading frames of unknown function in diverse bacteria that interact with eukaryotes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1149-1164
Number of pages16
JournalMolecular Microbiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jun 2008

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Microbiology
  • Molecular Biology


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