DOI: 10.1093/plphys/kiae155 ISSN: 0032-0889

Subtilisin-like proteases from Fusarium graminearum induce plant cell death and contribute to virulence

Jiang Xiong, Mingyu Luo, Yunshen Chen, Qianyong Hu, Ying Fang, Tongjun Sun, Guanjing Hu, Cui-Jun Zhang
  • Plant Science
  • Genetics
  • Physiology


Fusarium head blight (FHB), caused by Fusarium graminearum, causes huge annual economic losses in cereal production. To successfully colonize host plants, pathogens secrete hundreds of effectors that interfere with plant immunity and facilitate infection. However, the roles of most secreted effectors of F. graminearum in pathogenesis remain unclear. We analyzed the secreted proteins of F. graminearum and identified 255 candidate effector proteins by liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS). Five subtilisin-like family proteases (FgSLPs) were identified that can induce cell death in Nicotiana benthamiana leaves. Further experiments showed that these FgSLPs induced cell death in cotton (Gossypium barbadense) and Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana). A signal peptide and light were not essential for the cell death-inducing activity of FgSLPs. The I9 inhibitor domain and entire C terminus of FgSLPs were indispensable for their self-processing and cell death-inducing activity. FgSLP-induced cell death occurred independent of the plant signal transduction components BRI-ASSOCIATED KINASE 1 (BAK1), SUPPRESSOR OF BIR1 1 (SOBIR1), ENHANCED DISEASE SUSCEPTIBILITY 1 (EDS1), and PHYTOALEXIN DEFICIENT 4 (PAD4). Reduced virulence was observed when FgSLP1 and FgSLP2 were simultaneously knocked out. This study reveals a class of secreted toxic proteins essential for F. graminearum virulence.

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