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The nodule-specific MtNOD25 gene of the model legume Medicago truncatula encodes a modular nodulin composed of different repetitive modules flanked by distinct N- and C-termini. Although similarities are low with respect to all repetitive modules, both the N-terminal signal peptide (SP) and the C-terminus are highly conserved in modular nodulins from different legumes. On the cellular level, MtNOD25 is only transcribed in the infected cells of root nodules, and this activation is mediated by a 299-bp minimal promoter containing an organ-specific element. By expressing mGFP6 translational fusions in transgenic nodules, we show that MtNOD25 proteins are exclusively translocated to the symbiosomes of infected cells. This specific targeting only requires an N-terminal MtNOD25 SP that is highly conserved across a family of legume-specific symbiosome proteins. Our finding sheds light on one possible mechanism for the delivery of host proteins to the symbiosomes of infected root nodule cells and, in addition, defines a short molecular address label of only 24 amino acids whose N-terminal presence is sufficient to translocate proteins across the peribacteroid membrane.


Natalija Hohnjec, Frauke Lenz, Vera Fehlberg, Martin F Vieweg, Markus C Baier, Bettina Hause, Helge Küster. The signal peptide of the Medicago truncatula modular nodulin MtNOD25 operates as an address label for the specific targeting of proteins to nitrogen-fixing symbiosomes. Molecular plant-microbe interactions : MPMI. 2009 Jan;22(1):63-72

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PMID: 19061403

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