Analyses of the secretomes of Erwinia amylovora and selected hrp mutants reveal novel type III secreted proteins and an effect of HrpJ on extracellular harpin levels


  • Present addresses: Department of Applied Biology, University of Helsinki, PO Box 27, 00014 Helsinki University, Finland; ‡Department of Plant Pathology, Iowa State University, Ames, IA 50011, USA

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Erwinia amylovora is a plant pathogenic enterobacterium that causes fire blight disease of apple, pear and other rosaceous plants. A type III (T3) secretion system, encoded by clustered, chromosomal hrp genes (hypersensitive response and pathogenicity), is essential for infection, but only a few proteins are known that are secreted through this pathway (the T3 ‘secretome’). We developed an efficient protocol for purification and concentration of extracellular proteins and used it to characterize the T3 secretome of E. amylovora Ea273 by comparing preparations from the wild-type strain with those from mutants defective in hrp secretion, regulation, or in genes encoding putative T3-secreted proteins. Proteins were resolved by gel electrophoresis and identified using mass spectrometry and a draft sequence of the E. amylovora genome. Twelve T3-secreted proteins were identified, including homologues of known effector and helper proteins, and HrpJ, a homologue of YopN of Yersinia pestis. Several previously uncharacterized T3-secreted proteins were designated as Eops for Erwinia outer proteins. Analysis of the secretome of a non-polar hrpJ mutant demonstrated that HrpJ is required for accumulation of wild-type levels of secreted harpins. HrpJ was found to be essential for pathogenesis, and to play a major role in elicitation of the hypersensitive reaction in tobacco.