We show for soil bacterium Enterobacter soli LF7 that the possession of an indole-3-acetic acid catabolic (iac) gene cluster is causatively linked to the ability to utilize the plant hormone indole-3-acetic acid (IAA) as a carbon and energy source. Genome-wide transcriptional profiling by mRNA sequencing revealed that these iac genes, chromosomally arranged as iacHABICDEFG and coding for the transformation of IAA to catechol, were the most highly induced (>29-fold) among the relatively few (iac cluster were genes for a major facilitator superfamily protein (mfs) and enzymes of the β-ketoadipate pathway (pcaIJD-catBCA), which channels catechol into central metabolism. This entire iacHABICDEFG-mfs-pcaIJD-catBCA gene set was constitutively expressed in an iacR deletion mutant, confirming the role of iacR, annotated as coding for a MarR-type regulator and located upstream of iacH, as a repressor of iac gene expression. In E. soli LF7 carrying the DNA region upstream of iacH fused to a promoterless gfp gene, green fluorescence accumulated in response to IAA at concentrations as low as 1.6 μM. The iacH promoter region also responded to chlorinated IAA, but not other aromatics tested, indicating a narrow substrate specificity. In an iacR deletion mutant, gfp expression from the iacH promoter region was constitutive, consistent with the predicted role of iacR as a repressor. A deletion analysis revealed putative −35/−10 promoter sequences upstream of iacH, as well as a possible binding site for the IacR repressor.

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Published in Applied and Environmental Microbiology, v. 84, issue 19, e01057-18, p. 118.

Copyright © 2018 American Society for Microbiology. All Rights Reserved.

The copyright holder has granted the permission for posting the article here.

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Funding Information

The research described here was funded from grants 2010-03544 and 2013-02075 awarded to J.H.J.L. by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI).

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Supporting RNA-Seq data have been deposited in the Gene Expression Omnibus (GEO) database (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/geo/) and are available under accession number GSE114050.