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Suppression or Activation of Immune Responses by Predicted Secreted Proteins of the Soybean Rust Pathogen Phakopsora pachyrhizi

Mingsheng Qi, James P. Grayczyk, Janina M. Seitz, Youngsill Lee, Tobias I. Link, Doil Choi, Kerry F. Pedley, Ralf T. Voegele, Thomas J. Baum, Steven A. Whitham
Molecular plant-microbe interactions 2018 v.31 no.1 pp. 163-174
Agrobacterium, Arabidopsis, Nicotiana benthamiana, Phakopsora pachyrhizi, cell membranes, crop production, haustoria, heterologous gene expression, host plants, hyphae, immune response, immune system, nutrients, plant pathogenic fungi, protein secretion, screening, soybean rust, tomatoes, type III secretion system, virulence, yeasts
Rust fungi, such as the soybean rust pathogen Phakopsora pachyrhizi, are major threats to crop production. They form specialized haustoria that are hyphal structures intimately associated with host-plant cell membranes. These haustoria have roles in acquiring nutrients and secreting effector proteins that manipulate host immune systems. Functional characterization of effector proteins of rust fungi is important for understanding mechanisms that underlie their virulence and pathogenicity. Hundreds of candidate effector proteins have been predicted for rust pathogens, but it is not clear how to prioritize these effector candidates for further characterization. There is a need for high-throughput approaches for screening effector candidates to obtain experimental evidence for effector-like functions, such as the manipulation of host immune systems. We have focused on identifying effector candidates with immune-related functions in the soybean rust fungus P. pachyrhizi. To facilitate the screening of many P. pachyrhizi effector candidates (named PpECs), we used heterologous expression systems, including the bacterial type III secretion system, Agrobacterium infiltration, a plant virus, and a yeast strain, to establish an experimental pipeline for identifying PpECs with immune-related functions and establishing their subcellular localizations. Several PpECs were identified that could suppress or activate immune responses in nonhost Nicotiana benthamiana, N. tabacum, Arabidopsis, tomato, or pepper plants.