A 3-kb region containing the determinant for bacteriocin activity from Rhizobium leguminosarum 248 was isolated and characterized by Tn5 insertional mutagenesis and DNA sequencing. Southern hybridizations showed that this bacteriocin was encoded on the plasmid pRL1JI and that homologous loci were not found in other unrelated R. leguminosarum strains. Tn5 insertional mutagenesis showed that mutations in the C-terminal half of the bacteriocin open reading frame apparently did not abolish bacteriocin activity. Analysis of the deduced amino acid sequence revealed that, similarly to RTX proteins (such as hemolysin and leukotoxin), this protein contains a characteristic nonapeptide repeated up to 18 times within the protein. In addition, a novel 19- to 25-amino-acid motif that occurred every 130 amino acids was detected. Bacteriocin bioactivity was correlated with the presence of a protein of approximately 100 kDa in the culture supernatants, and the bacteriocin bioactivity demonstrated a calcium dependence in both R. leguminosarum and Sinorhizobium meliloti. A mutant of strain 248 unable to produce this bacteriocin was found to have a statistically significant reduction in competitiveness for nodule occupancy compared to two test strains in coinoculation assays. However, this strain was unable to compete any more successfully with a third test strain, 3841, than was wild-type 248
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