Pathogen-injected, direct transcriptional activators of host genes, TAL effectors play determinative roles in plant diseases caused by Xanthomonas spp. A large domain of near-identical, 33-35 amino acid repeats in each protein mediates DNA recognition. This modularity makes TAL effectors customizable and thus important also in biotechnology. However, the repeats render TAL effector (tal) genes nearly impossible to assemble using next-generation, short reads. Here, we demonstrate that long-read, single molecule, real-time (SMRT) sequencing solves this problem. Taking an ensemble approach to first generate local, tal gene contigs, we correctly assembled de novo the genomes of two strains of the rice pathogen X. oryzae completed previously using the Sanger method, and even identified errors in those references. Sequencing two more strains revealed dynamic genome structure and a striking plasticity in tal gene content. Our results pave the way for population-level studies to inform resistance breeding, improve biotechnology, and probe TAL effector evolution.
Damage-associated molecular patterns (DAMPs), released from host tissues as a consequence of pathogen attack, have been proposed as endogenous activators of immune responses in both animals and plants. Oligogalacturonides (OGs), oligomers of α-1,4–linked galacturonic acid generated in vitro by the partial hydrolysis of pectin, have been shown to function as potent elicitors of immunity when they are applied exogenously to plant tissues. However, there is no direct evidence that OGs can be produced in vivo or that they function as immune elicitors. This report provides the missing evidence that OGs can be generated in planta and can function as DAMPs in the activation of plant immunity.
Bacterial blight of rice is caused by the γ-proteobacterium Xanthomonas oryzae pv. oryzae, which utilizes a group of type III TAL (transcription activator-like) effectors to induce host gene expression and condition host susceptibility. Five SWEET genes are functionally redundant to support bacterial disease, but only two were experimentally proven targets of natural TAL effectors. Here, we report the identification of the sucrose transporter gene OsSWEET13 as the disease susceptibility gene for PthXo2 and the existence of cryptic recessive resistance to PthXo2-dependent X. oryzae pv. oryzae due to promoter variations of OsSWEET13 in japonica rice. PthXo2-containing strains induce OsSWEET13 in indica rice IR24 due to the presence of an unpredicted and undescribed effector binding site not present in the alleles in japonica rice Nipponbare and Kitaake. The specificity of effector-associated gene induction and disease susceptibility is attributable to a single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP), which is also found in a polymorphic allele of OsSWEET13 known as the recessive resistance gene xa25 from the rice cultivar Minghui 63. The mutation of OsSWEET13 with CRISPR/Cas9 technology further corroborates the requirement of OsSWEET13 expression for the state of PthXo2-dependent disease susceptibility to X. oryzae pv. oryzae. Gene profiling of a collection of 104 strains revealed OsSWEET13 induction by 42 isolates of X. oryzae pv. oryzae. Heterologous expression of OsSWEET13 in Nicotiana benthamiana leaf cells elevates sucrose concentrations in the apoplasm. The results corroborate a model whereby X. oryzae pv. oryzae enhances the release of sucrose from host cells in order to exploit the host resources.
PLOS Pathogens - 2015 Here we investigate general mechanisms by which antimicrobials can damage microbial DNA. We also explore downstream cellular responses to DNA damage, including DNA repair. We will look at specific examples by which antimicrobial treatment, through DNA damage and cellular responses, can induce genetic perturbations ranging from small nucleotide mutationsto gross chromosomal rearrangements [1,4]. Overall, this review aims to explore genomic pressure exerted on bacterial and fungal pathogens by antimicrobial treatment, and implications for antimicrobial resistance.
Transcription activator-like effectors (TALEs) are proteins secreted by Xanthomonas bacteria to aid the infection of plant species. TALEs assist infections by binding to specific DNA sequences and activating the expression of host genes. Recent results show that TALE proteins consist of a central repeat domain, which determines the DNA targeting specificity and can be rapidly synthesized de novo. Considering the highly modular nature of TALEs, their versatility, and the ease of constructing these proteins, this technology can have important implications for synthetic biology applications. Here, we review developments in the area with a particular focus on modifications for custom and controllable gene regulation.
Plant resistance proteins of the class of nucleotide-binding and leucine-rich repeat domain proteins (NB-LRRs) are immune sensors which recognize pathogen-derived molecules termed avirulence (AVR) proteins. We show that RGA4 and RGA5, two NB-LRRs from rice, interact functionally and physically to mediate resistance to the fungal pathogen Magnaporthe oryzae and accomplish different functions in AVR recognition. RGA4 triggers an AVR-independent cell death that is repressed in the presence of RGA5 in both rice protoplasts and Nicotiana benthamiana. Upon recognition of the pathogen effector AVR-Pia by direct binding to RGA5, repression is relieved and cell death occurs. RGA4 and RGA5 form homo- and hetero-complexes and interact through their coiled-coil domains. Localization studies in rice protoplast suggest that RGA4 and RGA5 localize to the cytosol. Upon recognition of AVR-Pia, neither RGA4 nor RGA5 is re-localized to the nucleus. These results establish a model for the interaction of hetero-pairs of NB-LRRs in plants: RGA4 mediates cell death activation, while RGA5 acts as a repressor of RGA4 and as an AVR receptor.
Terrestrial plants rely on stomata, small pores in the leaf surface, for photosynthetic gas exchange and transpiration of water. The stomata, formed by a pair of guard cells, dynamically increase and decrease their volume to control the pore size in response to environmental cues. Stresses can trigger similar or opposing movements: for example, drought induces closure of stomata, whereas many pathogens exploit stomata and cause them to open to facilitate entry into plant tissues. The latter is an active process as stomatal closure is part of the plant's immune response. Stomatal research has contributed much to clarify the signalling pathways of abiotic stress, but guard cell signalling in response to microbes is a relatively new area of research. In this article, we discuss present knowledge of stomatal regulation in response to microbes and highlight common points of convergence, and differences, compared to stomatal regulation by abiotic stresses. We also expand on the mechanisms by which pathogens manipulate these processes to promote disease, for example by delivering effectors to inhibit closure or trigger opening of stomata. The study of pathogen effectors in stomatal manipulation will aid our understanding of guard cell signalling.
TAL effectors are transcription factors injected into plant cells by pathogenic bacteria during infection. They find their specific DNA targets via a string of contiguous, structural repeats that individually recognize single nucleotides (with some degeneracy) by virtue of polymorphisms at residue 13. The number of repeats and sequence of the amino acids at position 13 determine the nucleotide sequence of the DNA target. Due to this modularity, TAL effectors are readily engineered and have been used alone or as molecular fusions for targeted gene activation, gene repression, chromatin modification, chromatin tagging, and most broadly, for genome editing as TAL effector nucleases (TALENs). Several moderate and high-throughput cloning methods are in place for assembling TAL effector-based genetic constructs. Targeting is complicated to an extent by a general requirement for thymine to precede the DNA target, a requirement of TALENs to bind paired opposing sites separated by a defined range of distances, differential contributions of different repeat types to overall affinity, and a polarity to mismatch tolerance. Several computational tools are available online to aid in design and the identification of candidate off-target binding sites, as well as assembly and implementation. These tools vary in their approaches, capabilities, and relative utility for different types of TAL effector applications. Accuracy of off-target prediction is not well characterized yet for any of the tools and will require a better understanding of the qualitative and quantitative variation in the nucleotide preferences of individual repeats.
Bacterial leaf streak (BLS) caused by Xanthomonas oryzae pv. oryzicola was first reported in Africa in the 1980s. Recently, a substantial reemergence of this disease was observed in West Africa. Samples were collected at various sites in five and three different rice-growing regions of Burkina Faso and Mali, respectively. Sixty-seven X. oryzae pv. oryzicola strains were isolated from cultivated and wild rice varieties and from weeds showing BLS symptoms. X. oryzae pv. oryzicola strains were evaluated for virulence on rice and showed high variation in lesion length on a susceptible cultivar. X. oryzae pv. oryzicola strains were further characterized by multilocus sequence analysis (MLSA) using six housekeeping genes. Inferred dendrograms clearly indicated different groups among X. oryzae pv. oryzicola strains. Restriction fragment length polymorphism analysis using the transcriptional activator like effector avrXa7 as probe resulted in the identification of 18 haplotypes. Polymerase chain reaction-based analyses of two conserved type III effector (T3E) genes (xopAJ and xopW) differentiated the strains into distinct groups, with xopAJ not detected in most African X. oryzae pv. oryzicola strains. XopAJ functionality was confirmed by leaf infiltration on ‘Kitaake’ rice Rxo1 lines. Sequence analysis of xopW revealed four groups among X. oryzae pv. oryzicola strains. Distribution of 43 T3E genes shows variation in a subset of X. oryzae pv. oryzicola strains. Together, our results show that African X. oryzae pv. oryzicola strains are diverse and rapidly evolving, with a group endemic to Africa and another one that may have evolved from an Asian strain.
Designer transcription-activator like effectors (TALEs) is a promising technology and made it possible to edit genomes with higher specificity. Such specific engineering and gene regulation technologies are also being developed using RNA-binding proteins like PUFs and PPRs. The main feature of TALEs, PUFs and PPRs is their repetitive DNA/RNA-binding domains which have single nucleotide binding specificity. Available kits today allow researchers to assemble these repetitive domains in any combination they desire when generating TALEs for gene targeting and editing. However, PCR amplifications of such repetitive DNAs are highly problematic as these mostly fail, generating undesired artifact products or deletions. Here we describe the molecular mechanisms leading to these artifacts. We tested our models also in plasmid templates containing one copy versus two copies of GFP-coding sequence arranged as either direct or inverted repeats. Some limited solutions in amplifying repetitive DNA regions are described.
Cytoplasmic plant immune receptors recognize specific pathogen effector proteins and initiate effector-triggered immunity. In Arabidopsis, the immune receptors RPS4 and RRS1 are both required to activate defense to three different pathogens. We show that RPS4 and RRS1 physically associate. Crystal structures of the N-terminal Toll–interleukin-1 receptor/resistance (TIR) domains of RPS4 and RRS1, individually and as a heterodimeric complex (respectively at 2.05, 1.75, and 2.65 angstrom resolution), reveal a conserved TIR/TIR interaction interface. We show that TIR domain heterodimerization is required to form a functional RRS1/RPS4 effector recognition complex. The RPS4 TIR domain activates effector-independent defense, which is inhibited by the RRS1 TIR domain through the heterodimerization interface. Thus, RPS4 and RRS1 function as a receptor complex in which the two components play distinct roles in recognition and signaling.
Bacterial flagellin molecules are strong inducers of innate immune responses in both mammals and plants. The opportunistic pathogenPseudomonas aeruginosa secretes an alkaline protease called AprA that degrades flagellin monomers. Here, we show that AprA is widespread among a wide variety of bacterial species. In addition we investigated the role of AprA in virulence of the bacterial plant pathogen Pseudomonas syringae pv. tomato DC3000 (Pst). The AprA-deficient Pst ∆aprA knockout mutant was significantly less virulent on both tomato and A. thaliana. Moreover, infiltration of A. thaliana Col-0 leaves with Pst ∆aprA evoked a significantly higher level of expression of the defense-related genes FRK1 and PR-1 than did wild-type Pst. In the flagellin receptor mutant fls2, pathogen virulence and defense-related gene activation did not differ between Pst and Pst ∆aprA. Together, these results suggest that AprA of Pst is important for evasion of recognition by the FLS2 receptor, allowing wild-type Pst to be more virulent on its host plant than AprA-deficient Pst ∆aprA. To provide further evidence for the role of Pst AprA in host immune evasion, we overexpressed the AprA inhibitory peptide AprI of Pst in A. thaliana to counteract the immune evasive capacity of Pst AprA. Ectopic expression of aprI in A. thaliana resulted in an enhanced level of resistance against wild-type Pst, while the already elevated level of resistance against Pst ∆aprA remained unchanged. Together, these results indicate that evasion of host immunity by the alkaline protease AprA is important for full virulence of Pst and likely acts by preventing flagellin monomers from being recognized by its cognate immune receptor.
With PacBio data, Booher et al. (2015) identified errors in the two available finished reference sequences, that the research community rely so heavily on, and identified important sites of sequence variation including variations affecting TAL gene expression, reinforcing the concept that a reference genome is a working hypothesis. They also sequenced non-reference genomes and were able to assemble large (∼5 Mb) chromosomes into single contiguous sequences, resolve multiple phage sequences, including one case where the phage was shown to occasionally excise and form an extrachromosomal closed circular molecule. The prime target of assembling TAL genes was an all round success, although it did require development of bespoke bioinformatic tools, highlighting the pioneering nature of the work. Overall, the study captured the full repertoire of TAL genes in each genome, and demonstrated high levels of diversity within and between isolates.
Andrew Read's insight:
A really beautifully written review of Nick's recent paper.
Xanthomonas oryzae pv. oryzicola (Xoc) causes the increasingly important disease bacterial leaf streak of rice (BLS) in part by type III delivery of repeat-rich transcription activator-like (TAL) effectors to upregulate host susceptibility genes. By pathogen whole genome, single molecule, real-time sequencing and host RNA sequencing, we compared TAL effector content and rice transcriptional responses across 10 geographically diverse Xoc strains. TAL effector content is surprisingly conserved overall, yet distinguishes Asian from African isolates. Five TAL effectors are conserved across all strains. In a prior laboratory assay in rice cv. Nipponbare, only two contributed to virulence in strain BLS256 but the strict conservation indicates all five may be important, in different rice genotypes or in the field. Concatenated and aligned, TAL effector content across strains largely reflects relationships based on housekeeping genes, suggesting predominantly vertical transmission. Rice transcriptional responses did not reflect these relationships, and on average, only 28% of genes upregulated and 22% of genes downregulated by a strain are up- and downregulated (respectively) by all strains. However, when only known TAL effector targets were considered, the relationships resembled those of the TAL effectors. Toward identifying new targets, we used the TAL effector-DNA recognition code to predict effector binding elements in promoters of genes upregulated by each strain, but found that for every strain, all upregulated genes had at least one. Filtering with a classifier we developed previously decreases the number of predicted binding elements across the genome, suggesting that it may reduce false positives among upregulated genes. Applying this filter and eliminating genes for which upregulation did not strictly correlate with presence of the corresponding TAL effector, we generated testable numbers of candidate targets for four of the five strictly conserved TAL effectors.
Transcription activator–like effector (TALE) proteins have gained broad appeal as a platform for targeted DNA recognition, largely owing to their simple rules for design. These rules relate the base specified by a single TALE repeat to the identity of two key residues (the repeat variable diresidue, or RVD) and enable design for new sequence targets via modular shuffling of these units. A key limitation of these rules is that their simplicity precludes options for improving designs that are insufficiently active or specific. Here we address this limitation by developing an expanded set of RVDs and applying them to improve the performance of previously described TALEs. As an extreme example, total conversion of a TALE nuclease to new RVDs substantially reduced off-target cleavage in cellular studies. By providing new RVDs and design strategies, these studies establish options for developing improved TALEs for broader application across medicine and biotechnology.
This study extends the natural code by which transcription activation-like effector nucleases (TALENs) recognize DNA and uses the resulting expanded repertoire of repeat divariable residues (RVDs) to improve TALEN performance.
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small regulatory RNA molecules that inhibit the expression of specific target genes by binding to and cleaving their messenger RNAs or otherwise inhibiting their translation into proteins. miRNAs are transcribed as much larger primary transcripts (pri-miRNAs), the function of which is not fully understood. Here we show that plant pri-miRNAs contain short open reading frame sequences that encode regulatory peptides. The pri-miR171b of Medicago truncatula and the pri-miR165a of Arabidopsis thaliana produce peptides, which we term miPEP171b and miPEP165a, respectively, that enhance the accumulation of their corresponding mature miRNAs, resulting in downregulation of target genes involved in root development. The mechanism of miRNA-encoded peptide (miPEP) action involves increasing transcription of the pri-miRNA. Five other pri-miRNAs of A. thaliana and M. truncatula encode active miPEPs, suggesting that miPEPs are widespread throughout the plant kingdom. Synthetic miPEP171b and miPEP165a peptides applied to plants specifically trigger the accumulation of miR171b and miR165a, leading to reduction of lateral root development and stimulation of main root growth, respectively, suggesting that miPEPs might have agronomical applications.
Pathogens can colonize all plant organs and tissues. To prevent this, each cell must be capable of autonomously triggering defence. Therefore, it is generally assumed that primary sensors of the immune system are constitutively present. One major primary sensor against bacterial infection is the FLAGELLIN SENSING 2 (FLS2) pattern recognition receptor (PRR). To gain insights into its expression pattern, the FLS2 promoter activity in β-glucuronidase (GUS) reporter lines was monitored. The data show that pFLS2::GUS activity is highest in cells and tissues vulnerable to bacterial entry and colonization, such as stomata, hydathodes, and lateral roots. GUS activity is also high in the vasculature and, by monitoring Ca2+ responses in the vasculature, it was found that this tissue contributes to flg22-induced Ca2+ burst. The FLS2 promoter is also regulated in a tissue- and cell type-specific manner and is responsive to hormones, damage, and biotic stresses. This results in stimulus-dependent expansion of the FLS2 expression domain. In summary, a tissue- and cell type-specific map of FLS2 expression has been created correlating with prominent entry sites and target tissues of plant bacterial pathogens.
To confer resistance against pathogens and pests in plants, typically dominant resistance genes are deployed. However, because resistance is based on recognition of a single pathogen-derived molecular pattern these narrowspectrum genes are usually readily overcome. Disease arises from a compatible interaction between plant and pathogen. Hence, altering a plant gene that critically facilitates compatibility could provide a more broad-spectrum and durable type of resistance. Here, such susceptibility (S) genes are reviewed with a focus on the mechanisms underlying loss of compatibility. We distinguish three groups of S genes acting during different stages of infection: early pathogen establishment, modulation of host defenses, and pathogen sustenance. The many examples reviewed here show that S genes have the potential to be used in resistance breeding. However, because S genes have a function other than being a compatibility factor for the pathogen, the side effects caused by their mutation demands a one-by-one assessment of their usefulness for application.
The transcriptional regulation of endogenous genes with artificial transcription factors (TFs) can offer new tools for plant biotechnology. Three systems are available for mediating site-specific DNA recognition of artificial TFs: those based on zinc fingers, TALEs, and on the CRISPR/Cas9 technology. Artificial TFs require an effector domain that controls the frequency of transcription initiation at endogenous target genes. These effector domains can be transcriptional activators or repressors, but can also have enzymatic activities involved in chromatin remodeling or epigenetic regulation. Artificial TFs are able to regulate gene expression in trans, thus allowing them to evoke dominant mutant phenotypes. Large scale changes in transcriptional activity are induced when the DNA binding domain is deliberately designed to have lower binding specificity. This technique, known as genome interrogation, is a powerful tool for generating novel mutant phenotypes. Genome interrogation has clear mechanistic and practical advantages over activation tagging, which is the technique most closely resembling it. Most notably, genome interrogation can lead to the discovery of mutant phenotypes that are unlikely to be found when using more conventional single gene-based approaches.
Horizontal gene transfer (HGT) and gene loss are key processes in bacterial evolution. However, the role of gene gain and loss in the emergence and maintenance of ecologically differentiated bacterial populations remains an open question. Here, we use whole-genome sequence data to quantify gene gain and loss for 27 lineages of the plant-associated bacterium Pseudomonas syringae. We apply an extensive error-control procedure that accounts for errors in draft genome data and greatly improves the accuracy of patterns of gene occurrence among these genomes. We demonstrate a history of extensive genome fluctuation for this species and show that individual lineages could have acquired thousands of genes in the same period in which a 1% amino acid divergence accrues in the core genome. Elucidating the dynamics of genome fluctuation reveals the rapid turnover of gained genes, such that the majority of recently gained genes are quickly lost. Despite high observed rates of fluctuation, a phylogeny inferred from patterns of gene occurrence is similar to a phylogeny based on amino acid replacements within the core genome. Furthermore, the core genome phylogeny suggests that P. syringae should be considered a number of distinct species, with levels of divergence at least equivalent to those between recognized bacterial species. Gained genes are transferred from a variety of sources, reflecting the depth and diversity of the potential gene pool available via HGT. Overall, our results provide further insights into the evolutionary dynamics of genome fluctuation and implicate HGT as a major factor contributing to the diversification of P. syringae lineages.
Developing high yielding varieties with broad-spectrum and durable disease resistance is the ultimate goal of crop breeding. In plants, immune receptors of the NB-LRR class mediate race-specific resistance against pathogen attack. This type of resistance is often rapidly overcome by newly adapted pathogen races when employed in agriculture. The stacking of different resistance genes or alleles in F1 hybrids or in pyramided lines is a promising strategy to achieve more durable resistance. Here, we identify a molecular mechanism which can negatively interfere with the allele-pyramiding approach. We show that pairwise combinations of different alleles of the powdery-mildew-resistance gene Pm3 in F1 hybrids and stacked transgenic wheat lines can result in suppression of Pm3-based resistance. This effect is independent of the genetic background and solely dependent on the Pm3 alleles. Suppression occurs at the post-translational level as neither RNA nor protein levels of the suppressed alleles are affected. Using a transient-expression system in Nicotiana benthamiana, the LRR domain was identified as the suppression-conferring domain. The results of this study suggest that the expression of closely related NB-LRR resistance genes or alleles in the same genotype can lead to dominant-negative interactions. These findings provide a molecular explanation for the frequently observed ineffectiveness of resistance genes introduced from the secondary gene pool into polyploid crop species and mark an important step to overcome this limitation.
Recent effective use of TAL Effectors (TALEs) has provided an important approach to the design and synthesis of sequence-specific DNA-binding proteins. However, it is still a challenging task to design and manufacture effective TALE modulators because of the limited knowledge of TALE–DNA interactions. Here we synthesized more than 200 TALE modulators and identified two determining factors of transcription activity in vivo: chromatin accessibility and the distance from the transcription start site. The implementation of these modulators in a gain-of-function screen was successfully demonstrated for four cell lines in migration/invasion assays and thus has broad relevance in this field. Furthermore, a novel TALE–TALE modulator was developed to transcriptionally inhibit target genes. Together, these findings underscore the huge potential of these TALE modulators in the study of gene function, reprogramming of cellular behaviors, and even clinical investigation.
AvrBs3, the founding member of the Xanthomonas transcription-activator-like effectors (TALEs), is translocated into the plant cell where it localizes to the nucleus and acts as transcription factor. The DNA-binding domain of AvrBs3 consists of 17.5 nearly-identical 34 amino acid-repeats. Each repeat specifies binding to one base in the target DNA via amino acid residues 12 and 13 termed repeat variable diresidue (RVD). Natural target sequences of TALEs are generally preceded by a thymine (T0), which is coordinated by a tryptophan residue (W232) in a degenerated repeat upstream of the canonical repeats. To investigate the necessity of T0 and the conserved tryptophan for AvrBs3-mediated gene activation we tested TALE mutant derivatives on target sequences preceded by all possible four bases. In addition, we performed domain swaps with TalC from a rice pathogenic Xanthomonas because TalC lacks the tryptophan residue, and the TalC target sequence is preceded by cytosine. We show that T0 works best and that T0 specificity depends on the repeat number and overall RVD-composition. T0 and W232 appear to be particularly important if the RVD of the first repeat is HD (‘rep1 effect’). Our findings provide novel insights into the mechanism of T0 recognition by TALE proteins and are important for TALE-based biotechnological applications.
Transcription activator-like effector nucleases (TALENs), the newly developed and powerful genetic tools for precise genome editing, are fusion proteins of TAL effectors as DNA binding domains and the cleavage domain of FokI endonuclease. As a pair, the central repeat regions of TALENs determine the DNA binding specificity for the two sub-target sites; and the dimeric non-specific FokI cleavage domains cause a DNA double strand break (DSB) between the bound sequences. In vivo, cells repair the DSBs through either non-homologous end joining (NHEJ) pathway or homologous recombination (HR) pathway. Various methods have been developed for easy and fast assembly of TALEN genes for their utilization in a variety of eukaryotic cells or organisms. Here we present a TALEN-based rice genome modification protocol including constructing modularly assembled TALENs, rice transformation, and mutant screening.
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