Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

Journal of Bacteriology


Department of Biological Sciences


In many bacteria, the ferric uptake regulator (Fur) protein plays a central role in the regulation of iron uptake genes. Because iron figures prominently in the agriculturally important symbiosis between soybean and its nitrogen-fixing endosymbiont Bradyrhizobium japonicum, we wanted to assess the role of Fur in the interaction. We identified a fur mutant by selecting for manganese resistance. Manganese interacts with the Fur protein and represses iron uptake genes. In the presence of high levels of manganese, bacteria with a wild-type copy of the furgene repress iron uptake systems and starve for iron, whereas fur mutants fail to repress iron uptake systems and survive. The B. japonicum fur mutant, as expected, fails to repress iron-regulated outer membrane proteins in the presence of iron. Unexpectedly, a wild-type copy of the fur gene cannot complement the fur mutant. Expression of the fur mutant allele in wild-type cells leads to a fur phenotype. Unlike a B. japonicum fur-null mutant, the strain carrying the dominant-negative fur mutation is unable to form functional, nitrogen-fixing nodules on soybean, mung bean, or cowpea, suggesting a role for a Fur-regulated protein or proteins in the symbiosis.