A glycosylation island is a genetic region required for glycosylation. The glycosylation island of flagellin in Pseudomonas syringae pv. tabaci 6605 consists of three orfs: orf1, orf2 and orf3. Orf1 and orf2 encode putative glycosyltransferases, and their deletion mutants, Δorf1 and Δorf2, exhibit deficient flagellin glycosylation or produce partially glycosylated flagellin respectively. Digestion of glycosylated flagellin from wild-type bacteria and non-glycosylated flagellin from Δorf1 mutant using aspartic N-peptidase and subsequent HPLC analysis revealed candidate glycosylated amino acids. By generation of site-directed Ser/Ala-substituted mutants, all glycosylated amino acid residues were identified at positions 143, 164, 176, 183, 193 and 201. Matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time of flight (MALDI-TOF) mass spectrometry (MS) analysis revealed that each glycan was about 540 Da. While all glycosylation-defective mutants retained swimming ability, swarming ability was reduced in the Δorf1, Δorf2 and Ser/ Ala-substituted mutants. All glycosylation mutants were also found to be impaired in the ability to adhere to a polystyrene surface and in the ability to cause disease in tobacco. Based on the predicted tertiary structure of flagellin, S176 and S183 are expected to be located on most external surface of the flagellum. Thus the effect of Ala-substitution of these serines is stronger than that of other serines. These results suggest that glycosylation of flagellin in P. syringae pv. tabaci 6605 is required for bacterial virulence. It is also possible that glycosylation of flagellin may mask elicitor function of flagellin molecule.
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