Intracellular NLR (Nucleotide-binding domain and Leucine-rich Repeat-containing) receptors are sensitive monitors that detect pathogen invasion of both plant and animal cells. NLRs confer recognition of diverse molecules associated with pathogen invasion. NLRs must exhibit strict intramolecular controls to avoid harmful ectopic activation in the absence of pathogens. Recent discoveries have elucidated the assembly and structure of oligomeric NLR signalling complexes in animals, and provided insights into how these complexes act as scaffolds for signal transduction. In plants, recent advances have provided novel insights into signalling-competent NLRs, and into the myriad strategies that diverse plant NLRs use to recognise pathogens. Here, we review recent insights into the NLR biology of both animals and plants. By assessing commonalities and differences between kingdoms, we are able to develop a more complete understanding of NLR function.
Plasma membrane-localized pattern recognition receptors (PRRs) such as FLAGELLIN SENSING2 (FLS2), EF-TU RECEPTOR (EFR) and CHITIN ELICITOR RECEPTOR KINASE 1 (CERK1) recognize microbe-associated molecular patterns (MAMPs) to activate pattern-triggered immunity (PTI). A reverse genetics approach on genes responsive to the priming agent beta-aminobutyric acid (BABA) revealed IMPAIRED OOMYCETE SUSCEPTIBILITY1 (IOS1) as a critical PTI player. Arabidopsis thaliana ios1 mutants were hyper-susceptible to Pseudomonas syringae bacteria. Accordingly, ios1 mutants showed defective PTI responses, notably delayed up-regulation of the PTI-marker gene FLG22-INDUCED RECEPTOR-LIKE KINASE1 (FRK1), reduced callose deposition and mitogen-activated protein kinase activation upon MAMP treatment. Moreover, Arabidopsis lines over-expressing IOS1 were more resistant to bacteria and showed a primed PTI response. In vitro pull-down, bimolecular fluorescence complementation, co-immunoprecipitation, and mass spectrometry analyses supported the existence of complexes between the membrane-localized IOS1 and BRASSINOSTEROID INSENSITIVE1-ASSOCIATED KINASE1 (BAK1)-dependent PRRs FLS2 and EFR, as well as with the BAK1-independent PRR CERK1. IOS1 also associated with BAK1 in a ligand-independent manner, and positively regulated FLS2-BAK1 complex formation upon MAMP treatment. In addition, IOS1 was critical for chitin-mediated PTI. Finally, ios1 mutants were defective in BABA-induced resistance and priming. This work reveals IOS1 as a novel regulatory protein of FLS2-, EFR- and CERK1-mediated signaling pathways that primes PTI activation.
Synthetic biology aims to apply engineering principles to the design and modification of biological systems and to the construction of biological parts and devices. The ability to programme cells by providing new instructions written in DNA is a foundational technology of the field. Large-scale de novo DNA synthesis has accelerated synthetic biology by offering custom-made molecules at ever decreasing costs. However, for large fragments and for experiments in which libraries of DNA sequences are assembled in different combinations, assembly in the laboratory is still desirable. Biological assembly standards allow DNA parts, even those from multiple laboratories and experiments, to be assembled together using the same reagents and protocols. The adoption of such standards for plant synthetic biology has been cohesive for the plant science community, facilitating the application of genome editing technologies to plant systems and streamlining progress in large-scale, multi-laboratory bioengineering projects.
A recent study by Kroj et al. (New Phytologist, 2016) surveyed nucleotide binding-leucine rich repeat (NLR) proteins from plant genomes for the presence of extraneous integrated domains that may serve as decoys or sensors for pathogen effectors. They reported that a FAM75 domain of unknown function occurs near the C-terminus of the potato late blight NLR protein R3a. Here, we investigated in detail the domain architecture of the R3a protein, its potato paralog R3b, and their tomato ortholog I2. We conclude that the R3a, R3b, and I2 proteins do not carry additional domains besides the classic NLR modules, and that the FAM75 domain match is likely a false positive among computationally predicted NLR-integrated domains.
Magnaporthe oryzae (anamorph Pyricularia oryzae) is the causal agent of blast disease of Poaceae crops and their wild relatives. To understand the genetic mechanisms that drive host specialization of M. oryzae, we carried out whole genome resequencing of four M. oryzae isolates from rice (Oryza sativa), one from foxtail millet (Setaria italica), three from wild foxtail millet S. viridis, and one isolate each from finger millet (Eleusine coracana), wheat (Triticum aestivum) and oat (Avena sativa), in addition to an isolate of a sister species M. grisea, that infects the wild grass Digitaria sanguinalis.
Asian soybean rust (ASR), caused by the fungus Phakopsora pachyrhizi, is one of the most economically important crop diseases, but is only treatable with fungicides, which are becoming less effective owing to the emergence of fungicide resistance. There are no commercial soybean cultivars with durable resistance to P. pachyrhizi, and although soybean resistance loci have been mapped, no resistance genes have been cloned. We report the cloning of a P. pachyrhizi resistance gene CcRpp1 (Cajanus cajan Resistance against Phakopsora pachyrhizi 1) from pigeonpea (Cajanus cajan) and show that CcRpp1 confers full resistance to P. pachyrhizi in soybean. Our findings show that legume species related to soybean such as pigeonpea, cowpea, common bean and others could provide a valuable and diverse pool of resistance traits for crop improvement.
Wild relatives of domesticated crop species harbor multiple, diverse, disease resistance (R) genes that could be used to engineer sustainable disease control. However, breeding R genes into crop lines often requires long breeding timelines of 5–15 years to break linkage between R genes and deleterious alleles (linkage drag). Further, when R genes are bred one at a time into crop lines, the protection that they confer is often overcome within a few seasons by pathogen evolution1. If several cloned R genes were available, it would be possible to pyramid R genes2 in a crop, which might provide more durable resistance1. We describe a three-step method (MutRenSeq)-that combines chemical mutagenesis with exome capture and sequencing for rapid R gene cloning. We applied MutRenSeq to clone stem rust resistance genes Sr22 and Sr45 from hexaploid bread wheat. MutRenSeq can be applied to other commercially relevant crops and their relatives, including, for example, pea, bean, barley, oat, rye, rice and maize.
Each year, staple crops around the world suffer massive losses in yield owing to the destructive effects of pathogens. Improving the disease resistance of crops by boosting their immunity has been a key objective of agricultural biotech ever since the discovery of plant immune receptors in the 1990s. Nucleotide-binding leucine-rich repeat (NLR) proteins, a family of intracellular immune receptors that recognize pathogen molecules, are promising targets for enhancing pathogen resistance. In a recent paper in Science, Kim et al.1 describe a clever twist on this approach in which the host target protein for the pathogen effector is engineered rather than the NLR protein itself.
Post-publication peer review is becoming increasingly popular, but authors need more incentive to self-correct and amend the scientific record (see D. B. Allison et al. Nature 530, 27–29; 2016). We propose that failure by authors to correct their mistakes should be classified as scientific misconduct. This policy has already been implemented by our institute, and we encourage research institutions and funding bodies to follow suit (see go.nature.com/dgifft). The responsibility to correct errors lies mainly with the criticized authors. Snubbing criticism by not addressing it promptly runs counter to our fundamental ethos as scientists, and threatens to erode society's trust in the scientific community.
The discovery of barley MLO demonstrated that filamentous pathogens rely on plant genes to achieve entry and lifecycle completion in barley leaves. Whilst having a dramatic effect on foliar pathogens, it is unclear whether overlapping or distinct mechanisms affect filamentous pathogen infection of roots. To remove the bias connected with using different pathogens to understand colonisation mechanisms in different tissues we have utilized the aggressive hemibiotrophic oomycete pathogen Phytophthora palmivora. P. palmivora colonises root as well as leaf tissues of barley (Hordeum vulgare). The infection is characterized by a transient biotrophy phase with formation of haustoria. Barley accessions varied in degree of susceptibility, with some accessions fully resistant to leaf infection. Notably, there was no overall correlation between degree of susceptibility in roots compared to leaves suggesting that variation in different genes influences host susceptibility above- and belowground. In addition, a developmental gradient influenced infection, with more extensive colonisation observed in mature leaf sectors. Only in young leaf tissues, the mlo5 mutation attenuates P. palmivora infection. The barley - P. palmivora interaction represents a simple system to identify and compare genetic components governing quantitative colonisation in diverse types of barley tissues.
In Arabidopsis, jasmonate (JA)-signaling plays a key role in mediating Fusarium oxysporum disease outcome. However, the roles of JASMONATE ZIM-domain (JAZ) proteins that repress JA-signaling have not been characterized in host resistance or susceptibility to this pathogen. Here, we found most JAZ genes are induced following F. oxysporum challenge, and screening T-DNA insertion lines in Arabidopsis JAZ family members identified a highly disease-susceptible JAZ7 mutant (jaz7-1D). This mutant exhibited constitutive JAZ7 expression and conferred increased JA-sensitivity, suggesting activation of JA-signaling. Unlike jaz7 loss-of-function alleles, jaz7-1D also had enhanced JA-responsive gene expression, altered development and increased susceptibility to the bacterial pathogen Pst DC3000 that also disrupts host JA-responses. We also demonstrate that JAZ7 interacts with transcription factors functioning as activators (MYC3, MYC4) or repressors (JAM1) of JA-signaling and contains a functional EAR repressor motif mediating transcriptional repression via the co-repressor TOPLESS (TPL). We propose through direct TPL recruitment, in wild-type plants JAZ7 functions as a repressor within the JA-response network and that in jaz7-1D plants, misregulated ectopic JAZ7 expression hyper-activates JA-signaling in part by disturbing finely-tuned COI1-JAZ-TPL-TF complexes.
Plant NB-LRR proteins confer resistance to multiple pathogens, including viruses. Although the recognition of viruses by NB-LRR proteins is highly specific, previous studies have suggested that NB-LRR activation results in a response that targets all viruses in the infected cell. Using an inducible system to activate NB-LRR defenses, we find that NB-LRR signaling does not result in the degradation of viral transcripts, but rather prevents them from associating with ribosomes and translating their genetic material. This indicates that defense against viruses involves the repression of viral RNA translation. This repression is specific to viral transcripts and does not involve a global shutdown of host cell translation. As a consequence of the repression of viral RNA translation, NB-LRR responses induce a dramatic increase in the biogenesis of RNA processing bodies (PBs). We demonstrate that other pathways that induce translational repression, such as UV irradiation and RNAi, also induce PBs. However, by investigating the phosphorylation status of eIF2α and by using suppressors of RNAi we show that the mechanisms leading to PB induction by NB-LRR signaling are different from these stimuli, thus defining a distinct type of translational control and anti-viral mechanism in plants.
Post-transcriptional control of protein abundance is a highly important, underexplored regulatory process by which organisms respond to their environments. Here we describe an important and previously unidentified regulatory pathway involving the ribosomal modification protein RimK, its regulator proteins RimA and RimB, and the widespread bacterial second messenger cyclic-di-GMP (cdG). Disruption of rimK affects motility and surface attachment in pathogenic and commensal Pseudomonas species, with rimK deletion significantly compromising rhizosphere colonisation by the commensal soil bacterium P. fluorescens, and plant infection by the pathogens P. syringae and P. aeruginosa. RimK functions as an ATP-dependent glutamyl ligase, adding glutamate residues to the C-terminus of ribosomal protein RpsF and inducing specific effects on both ribosome protein complement and function. Deletion of rimK in P. fluorescens leads to markedly reduced levels of multiple ribosomal proteins, and also of the key translational regulator Hfq. In turn, reduced Hfq levels induce specific downstream proteomic changes, with significant increases in multiple ABC transporters, stress response proteins and non-ribosomal peptide synthetases seen for both ΔrimK and Δhfqmutants. The activity of RimK is itself controlled by interactions with RimA, RimB and cdG. We propose that control of RimK activity represents a novel regulatory mechanism that dynamically influences interactions between bacteria and their hosts; translating environmental pressures into dynamic ribosomal changes, and consequently to an adaptive remodeling of the bacterial proteome.
Sumoylation is an essential post-translational regulator of plant development and the response to environmental stimuli. SUMO conjugation occurs via an E1-E2-E3 cascade, and can be removed by SUMO proteases (ULPs). ULPs are numerous and likely to function as sources of specificity within the pathway, yet most ULPs remain functionally unresolved. In this report we used loss-of-function reverse genetics and transcriptomics to functionally characterize Arabidopsis thaliana ULP1c and ULP1d SUMO proteases. GUS reporter assays implicated ULP1c/d in various developmental stages, and subsequent defects in growth and germination were uncovered using loss-of-function mutants. Microarray analysis evidenced not only a deregulation of genes involved in development, but also in genes controlled by various drought-associated transcriptional regulators. We demonstrated that ulp1c ulp1d displayed diminished in vitro root growth under low water potential and higher stomatal aperture, yet leaf transpirational water loss and whole drought tolerance were not significantly altered. Generation of a triple siz1 ulp1c ulp1d mutant suggests that ULP1c/d and the SUMO E3 ligase SIZ1 may display separate functions in development yet operate epistatically in response to water deficit. We provide experimental evidence that Arabidopsis ULP1c and ULP1d proteases act redundantly as positive regulators of growth, and operate mainly as isopeptidases downstream of SIZ1 in the control of water deficit responses.
The oomycete pathogen Phytophthora infestans causes potato late blight, and as a potato and tomato specialist pathogen, is seemingly poorly adapted to infect plants outside the Solanaceae. Here, we report the unexpected finding that P. infestans can infect Arabidopsis thaliana when another oomycete pathogen, Albugo laibachii, has colonized the host plant. The behaviour and speed of P. infestans infection in Arabidopsis pre-infected with A. laibachii resemble P. infestans infection of susceptible potato plants. Transcriptional profiling of P. infestans genes during infection revealed a significant overlap in the sets of secreted-protein genes that are induced in P. infestans upon colonization of potato and susceptible Arabidopsis, suggesting major similarities in P. infestans gene expression dynamics on the two plant species. Furthermore, we found haustoria of A. laibachii and P. infestans within the same Arabidopsis cells. This Arabidopsis - A. laibachii - P. infestans tripartite interaction opens up various possibilities to dissect the molecular mechanisms of P. infestans infection and the processes occurring in co-infected Arabidopsis cells.
The plant pathogenic fungus Fusarium oxysporum secretes an effector that is similar to a plant peptide hormone, underscoring the variety of mechanisms that plant pathogens have evolved to tamper with host physiology.
Plant pathogens cause devastating diseases of crop plants and threaten food security in an era of continuous population growth. Annual losses due to fungal and oomycete diseases amount to enough food calories to feed at least half a billion people. Understanding how plant pathogens infect and colonize plants should help to develop disease-resistant crops. It appears that plant pathogens are sophisticated manipulators of their hosts. They secrete effector molecules that alter host biological processes in a variety of ways, generally promoting the pathogen lifestyle. A new study by Masachis, Segorbe and colleagues describes a new mechanism by which plant pathogens interfere with plant physiology. They discovered that the root-infecting fungus F. oxysporum secretes a peptide similar to the plant regulatory peptide RALF (rapid alkalinization factor) to induce host tissue alkalinization and enhance plant colonization. This study demonstrates that in addition to secreting classical plant hormones (or mimics thereof), fungi have also evolved functional homologues of plant peptides to alter host cellular processes.
Understanding how plants and pathogens modulate gene expression during the host-pathogen interaction is key to uncovering the molecular mechanisms that regulate disease progression. Recent advances in sequencing technologies have provided new opportunities to decode the complexity of such interactions. In this study, we used an RNA-based sequencing approach (RNA-seq) to assess the global expression profiles of the wheat yellow rust pathogen Puccinia striiformis f. sp. tritici (PST) and its host during infection.
Plant infection is a complicated process. Upon encountering a plant, pathogenic microorganisms must first adapt to life on the epiphytic surface, and survive long enough to initiate an infection. Responsiveness to the environment is critical throughout infection, with intracellular and community-level signal transduction pathways integrating environmental signals and triggering appropriate responses in the bacterial population. Ultimately, phytopathogens must migrate from the epiphytic surface into the plant tissue using motility and chemotaxis pathways. This migration is coupled to overcoming the physical and chemical barriers to entry into the plant apoplast. Once inside the plant, bacteria use an array of secretion systems to release phytotoxins and protein effectors that fulfil diverse pathogenic functions (Fig. 1)(Phan Tran et al., 2011, Melotto & Kunkel, 2013).
Global yields of potato and tomato crops have fallen owing to potato late blight disease, which is caused by Phytophthora infestans. Although most commercial potato varieties are susceptible to blight, many wild potato relatives show variation for resistance and are therefore a potential source of Resistance to P. infestans (Rpi) genes. Resistance breeding has exploited Rpi genes from closely related tuber-bearing potato relatives, but is laborious and slow1, 2, 3. Here we report that the wild, diploid non-tuber-bearing Solanum americanum harbors multiple Rpi genes. We combine resistance (R) gene sequence capture (RenSeq)4 with single-molecule real-time (SMRT) sequencing (SMRT RenSeq) to clone Rpi-amr3i. This technology should enable de novo assembly of complete nucleotide-binding, leucine-rich repeat receptor (NLR) genes, their regulatory elements and complex multi-NLR loci from uncharacterized germplasm. SMRT RenSeq can be applied to rapidly clone multiple R genes for engineering pathogen-resistant crops.
Investigating the origin and dispersal pathways is instrumental to mitigate threats and economic and environmental consequences of invasive crop pathogens. In the case of Puccinia striiformis causing yellow rust on wheat, a number of economically important invasions have been reported, e.g., the spreading of two aggressive and high temperature adapted strains to three continents since 2000. The combination of sequence-characterized amplified region (SCAR) markers, which were developed from two specific AFLP fragments, differentiated the two invasive strains, PstS1 and PstS2 from all other P. striiformis strains investigated at a worldwide level. The application of the SCAR markers on 566 isolates showed that PstS1 was present in East Africa in the early 1980s and then detected in the Americas in 2000 and in Australia in 2002. PstS2 which evolved from PstS1 became widespread in the Middle East and Central Asia. In 2000, PstS2 was detected in Europe, where it never became prevalent. Additional SSR genotyping and virulence phenotyping revealed 10 and six variants, respectively, within PstS1 and PstS2, demonstrating the evolutionary potential of the pathogen. Overall, the results suggested East Africa as the most plausible origin of the two invasive strains. The SCAR markers developed in the present study provide a rapid, inexpensive, and efficient tool to track the distribution of P. striiformis invasive strains, PstS1 and PstS2.
Integral membrane proteins are generally under-represented in routine proteomic analyses, mostly because of their relatively low abundance, hydrophobicity and lack of trypsin-cleavage sites. To increase the coverage of membrane proteomes, various strategies have been developed, targeting mostly the extra-membrane segments of membrane proteins. We focused our attention to the rather overlooked hydrophobic transmembrane segments. Such peptides can be isolated after carbonate stripping and protease “shaving” of membranes isolated by simple centrifugation procedure. The treated membranes with embedded hydrophobic peptides can then be solubilized in organic solvents, re-digested with CNBr, delipidated and subjected to LC-MS/MS analysis. We modified the original “hppK” method, and applied it for the analysis of human lymphoma cells. We identified 1224 proteins of which two-thirds were IMPs with 1-16 transmembrane segments. This method allowed us to identify 13 “missing proteins” - proteins with no previous evidence on protein level.
Plants detect pathogens by surface-localized receptors. Few such receptors are known. The coreceptor BRI1-ASSOCIATED KINASE 1 (BAK1) is a frequent member of activated receptor complexes. The proteomics strategy described here uses BAK1 as molecular bait to identify potential receptors that are specifically activated by pathogen components. We demonstrate this approach by identifying Nicotiana benthamiana RECEPTOR-LIKE PROTEIN REQUIRED FOR CSP22 RESPONSIVENESS (NbCSPR). We show that NbCSPR is required for immune responses initiated by the bacterial cold shock protein, confers age-dependent immunity against bacteria, and restricts the transformation of N. benthamiana cells by Agrobacterium. Manipulation of this gene will provide new options for disease control and genetic transformation of crop species.
Plants deploy immune receptors to detect pathogen-derived molecules and initiate defense responses. Intracellular plant immune receptors called nucleotide-binding leucine-rich repeat (NLR) proteins contain a central nucleotide-binding (NB) domain followed by a series of leucine-rich repeats (LRRs), and are key initiators of plant defense responses. However, recent studies demonstrated that NLRs with non-canonical domain architectures play an important role in plant immunity. These composite immune receptors are thought to arise from fusions between NLRs and additional domains that serve as “baits” for the pathogen-derived effector proteins, thus enabling pathogen recognition. Several names have been proposed to describe these proteins, including “integrated decoys” and “integrated sensors”. We adopt and argue for “integrated domains” or NLR-IDs, which describes the product of the fusion without assigning a universal mode of action.
Rust fungal pathogens of wheat (Triticum spp.) affect crop yields worldwide. The molecular mechanisms underlying the virulence of these pathogens remain elusive, due to the limited availability of suitable molecular genetic research tools. Notably, the inability to perform high-throughput analyses of candidate virulence proteins (also known as effectors) impairs progress. We previously established a pipeline for the fast-forward screens of rust fungal candidate effectors in the model plant Nicotiana benthamiana. This pipeline involves selecting candidate effectors in silico and performing cell biology and protein-protein interaction assays in planta to gain insight into the putative functions of candidate effectors. In this study, we used this pipeline to identify and characterize sixteen candidate effectors from the wheat yellow rust fungal pathogen Puccinia striiformis f sp tritici. Nine candidate effectors targeted a specific plant subcellular compartment or protein complex, providing valuable information on their putative functions in plant cells. One candidate effector, PST02549, accumulated in processing bodies (P-bodies), protein complexes involved in mRNA decapping, degradation, and storage. PST02549 also associates with the P-body-resident ENHANCER OF mRNA DECAPPING PROTEIN 4 (EDC4) from N. benthamiana and wheat. We propose that P-bodies are a novel plant cell compartment targeted by pathogen effectors.
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