Succinoglycan (EPS I), the main acidic exopolysaccharide of Sinorhizobium meliloti, is required for the initiation and elongation of infection threads during nodulation of the host plant alfalfa. The gene products of the exoYFQ operon are involved in the first step of succinoglycan biosynthesis as well as in the polymerisation of subunits to the high-molecular-mass form of this exopolysaccharide. One promoter region that directs transcription of exoX and two promoter regions that drive transcription of exoY were mapped in the exoX-exoY intergenic region. The distal exoY promoter region containing three putative –10 promoter elements was active under standard growth conditions and was subject to ExoR-dependent regulation. Although this promoter region was stimulated in a phoB mutant, no PHO box-like sequences were found, suggesting an indirect regulatory effect of PhoB. The proximal promoter contains a PHO box-like sequence in the putative –35 region and was affected by low and high phosphate concentrations dependent on PhoB. In the case of deleted upstream regions, this promoter was also controlled by ExoR. An additional promoter displaying activity in exoR, mucR and phoB mutants under standard conditions was identified upstream of exoF. The putative –35 promoter element of this promoter is covered by a second PHO box-like sequence.

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