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Identification and functional analysis of the NLP-encoding genes from the phytopathogenic oomycete Phytophthora capsici

Chen, Xiao-Ren, Huang, Shen-Xin, Zhang, Ye, Sheng, Gui-Lin, Li, Yan-Peng, Zhu, Feng
Molecular genetics and genomics 2018 v.293 no.4 pp. 931-943
Nicotiana benthamiana, Phytophthora capsici, cell death, crops, financial economics, gene expression regulation, hot peppers, pathogenicity, pathogens, phylogeny, phytotoxicity, proteins, pseudogenes, transcription (genetics)
Phytophthora capsici is a hemibiotrophic, phytopathogenic oomycete that infects a wide range of crops, resulting in significant economic losses worldwide. By means of a diverse arsenal of secreted effector proteins, hemibiotrophic pathogens may manipulate plant cell death to establish a successful infection and colonization. In this study, we described the analysis of the gene family encoding necrosis- and ethylene-inducing peptide 1 (Nep1)-like proteins (NLPs) in P. capsici, and identified 39 real NLP genes and 26 NLP pseudogenes. Out of the 65 predicted NLP genes, 48 occur in groups with two or more genes, whereas the remainder appears to be singletons distributed randomly among the genome. Phylogenetic analysis of the 39 real NLPs delineated three groups. Key residues/motif important for the effector activities are degenerated in most NLPs, including the nlp24 peptide consisting of the conserved region I (11-aa immunogenic part) and conserved region II (the heptapeptide GHRHDWE motif) that is important for phytotoxic activity. Transcriptional profiling of eight selected NLP genes indicated that they were differentially expressed during the developmental and plant infection phases of P. capsici. Functional analysis of ten cloned NLPs demonstrated that Pc11951, Pc107869, Pc109174 and Pc118548 were capable of inducing cell death in the Solanaceae, including Nicotiana benthamiana and hot pepper. This study provides an overview of the P. capsici NLP gene family, laying a foundation for further elucidating the pathogenicity mechanism of this devastating pathogen.