[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: • The Phytophthora sojae genome encodes hundreds of RxLR effectors predicted to manipulate various plant defense responses, but the molecular mechanisms involved are largely unknown. Here we have characterized in detail the P. sojae RxLR effector Avh241. • To determine the function and localization of Avh241, we transiently expressed it on different plants. Silencing of Avh241 in P. sojae, we determined its virulence during infection. Through the assay of promoting infection by Phytophthora capsici to Nicotiana benthamiana, we further confirmed this virulence role. • Avh241 induced cell death in several different plants and localized to the plant plasma membrane. An N-terminal motif within Avh241 was important for membrane localization and cell death-inducing activity. Two mitogen-activated protein kinases, NbMEK2 and NbWIPK, were required for the cell death triggered by Avh241 in N. benthamiana. Avh241 was important for the pathogen's full virulence on soybean. Avh241 could also promote infection by P. capsici and the membrane localization motif was not required to promote infection. • This work suggests that Avh241 interacts with the plant immune system via at least two different mechanisms, one recognized by plants dependent on subcellular localization and one promoting infection independent on membrane localization.
New Phytologist 07/2012; 196(1):247-60. · 6.74 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Necrosis- and ethylene-inducing-like proteins (NLP) are widely distributed in eukaryotic and prokaryotic plant pathogens and are considered to be important virulence factors. We identified, in total, 70 potential Phytophthora sojae NLP genes but 37 were designated as pseudogenes. Sequence alignment of the remaining 33 NLP delineated six groups. Three of these groups include proteins with an intact heptapeptide (Gly-His-Arg-His-Asp-Trp-Glu) motif, which is important for necrosis-inducing activity, whereas the motif is not conserved in the other groups. In total, 19 representative NLP genes were assessed for necrosis-inducing activity by heterologous expression in Nicotiana benthamiana. Surprisingly, only eight genes triggered cell death. The expression of the NLP genes in P. sojae was examined, distinguishing 20 expressed and 13 nonexpressed NLP genes. Real-time reverse-transcriptase polymerase chain reaction results indicate that most NLP are highly expressed during cyst germination and infection stages. Amino acid substitution ratios (Ka/Ks) of 33 NLP sequences from four different P. sojae strains resulted in identification of positive selection sites in a distinct NLP group. Overall, our study indicates that expansion and pseudogenization of the P. sojae NLP family results from an ongoing birth-and-death process, and that varying patterns of expression, necrosis-inducing activity, and positive selection suggest that NLP have diversified in function.