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Keywords:

  • cell death;
  • localization;
  • Phytophthora sojae;
  • plasma membrane;
  • RxLR effector;
  • virulence

Summary

  • 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.