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A maize polygalacturonase functions as a suppressor of programmed cell death in plants

He, Yijian, Karre, Shailesh, Johal, Gurmukh S., Christensen, Shawn A., Balint-Kurti, Peter
BMC plant biology 2019 v.19 no.1 pp. 310
Nicotiana benthamiana, Zea mays, corn, gene overexpression, genes, loci, pathogens, polygalacturonase, programmed cell death, proteins, transposons
BACKGROUND: The hypersensitive defense response (HR) in plants is a fast, localized necrotic response around the point of pathogen ingress. HR is usually triggered by a pathogen recognition event mediated by a nucleotide-binding site, leucine-rich repeat (NLR) protein. The autoactive maize NLR gene Rp1-D21 confers a spontaneous HR response in the absence of pathogen recognition. Previous work identified a set of loci associated with variation in the strength of Rp1-D21-induced HR. A polygalacturonase gene homolog, here termed ZmPGH1, was identified as a possible causal gene at one of these loci on chromosome 7. RESULTS: Expression of ZmPGH1 inhibited the HR-inducing activity of both Rp1-D21 and that of another autoactive NLR, RPM1(D505V), in a Nicotiana benthamiana transient expression assay system. Overexpression of ZmPGH1 in a transposon insertion line of maize was associated with suppression of chemically-induced programmed cell death and with suppression of HR induced by Rp1-D21 in maize plants grown in the field. CONCLUSIONS: ZmPGH1 functions as a suppressor of programmed cell death induced by at least two autoactive NLR proteins and by two chemical inducers. These findings deepen our understanding of the control of the HR in plants.