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Mutants of Rhizobium leguminosarum were selected that were altered in the uptake activity of the general amino acid permease (Aap). The main class of mutant maps to sucA and sucD, which are part of a gene cluster mdh-sucCDAB, which codes for malate dehydrogenase (mdh), succinyl-CoA synthetase (sucCD) and components of the 2-oxoglutarate dehydrogenase complex (sucAB). Mutation of either sucC or sucD prevents expression of 2-oxoglutarate dehydrogenase (sucAB). Conversely, mutation of sucA or sucB results in much higher levels of succinyl-CoA synthetase and malate dehydrogenase activity. These results suggest that the genes mdh-sucCDAB may constitute an operon. suc mutants, unlike the wild-type, excrete large quantities of glutamate and 2-oxoglutarate. Concomitant with mutation of sucA or sucD, the intracellular concentration of glutamate but no 2-oxoglutarate was highly elevated, suggesting that 2-oxoglutarate normally feeds into the glutamate pool. Elevation of the intracellular glutamate pool appeared to be coupled to glutamate excretion as part of an overflow pathway for regulation of the TCA cycle. Amino acid uptake via the Aap of R. leguminosarum was strongly inhibited in the suc mutants, even though the transcription level of the aap operon was the same as the wild-type. This is consistent with previous observations that the Aap, which influences glutamate excretion in R. leguminosarum, has uptake inhibited when excretion occurs. Another class of mutant impaired in uptake by the Aap is mutated in polyhydroxybutyrate synthase (phaC). Mutants of succinyl-CoA synthetase (sucD) or 2-oxoglutarate dehydrogenase (sucA) form ineffective nodules. However, mutants of aap, which are unable to grow on glutamate as a carbon source in laboratory culture, show wild-type levels of nitrogen fixation. This indicates that glutamate is not an important carbon and energy source in the bacteroid. Instead glutamate synthesis, like polyhydroxybutyrate synthesis, appears to be a sink for carbon and reductant, formed when the 2-oxoglutarate dehydrogenase complex is blocked. This is in accord with previous observations that bacteroids synthesize high concentrations of glutamate. Overall the data show that the TCA cycle in R. leguminosarum is regulated by amino acid excretion and polyhydroxybutyrate biosynthesis which act as overflow pathways for excess carbon and reductant.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date



143 ( Pt 7)


2209 - 2221


Amino Acid Transport Systems, Citric Acid Cycle, Genes, Bacterial, Ketoglutarate Dehydrogenase Complex, Membrane Transport Proteins, Multigene Family, Mutation, Rhizobium leguminosarum, Succinate-CoA Ligases