Analysis of ENOD40 expression in alb1, a symbiotic mutant of Lotus japonicus that forms empty nodules with incompletely developed nodule vascular bundles
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The alb1 mutant of Lotus japonicus (Ljsym74) forms empty nodules in which most of the bacteria remain in abnormally enlarged infection threads and fail to enter the host plant cells. The alb1 mutant was also found to be defective in differentiation of ramified nodule vascular bundles; only a single vascular bundle differentiates at the proximal end of the alb1 nodules and it fails to differentiate further. Histochemical analysis using fluorescein-conjugated wheat-germ agglutinin (F-WGA) indicated that the mutation in the ALB1 gene specifically affects the differentiation of vascular bundles in nodules. Analysis of nodulin gene expression revealed that the expression of an early nodulin gene, ENOD40, was very low in alb1 nodules. At early developmental stages of alb1 nodules, the pattern of ENOD40 transcription was essentially the same as that in wild-type nodules; transcripts were localized in dividing cortical cells and in the pericycle of the root stele opposite nodule primordia, as in wild-type nodules. However, mature alb1 nodules exhibited very weak or no expression of ENOD40 in the peripheral cells of the undeveloped nodule vascular bundle. The ENOD40 expression pattern in alb1 nodules is distinct from that in another ineffective mutant, fen1 (Ljsym76), in which ENOD40 expression persists prior to premature senescence. These findings lead us to speculate that ENOD40 may play a role in the differentiation of nodule vascular bundles.
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