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In planta expression screens of candidate effector proteins from the wheat yellow rust fungus reveal processing bodies as a pathogen-targeted plant cell compartment

By Benjamin Petre, Diane G.O. Saunders, Jan Sklenar, Cécile Lorrain, Ksenia V. Krasileva, Joe Win, Sébastien Duplessis, Sophien Kamoun

Posted 19 Nov 2015
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/032276 (published DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0149035)

Rust fungal pathogens of wheat (Triticum spp.) affect crop yields worldwide. The molecular mechanisms underlying the virulence of these pathogens remain elusive, due to the limited availability of suitable molecular genetic research tools. Notably, the inability to perform high-throughput analyses of candidate virulence proteins (also known as effectors) impairs progress. We previously established a pipeline for the fast-forward screens of rust fungal effectors in the model plant Nicotiana benthamiana. This pipeline involves selecting candidate effectors in silico and performing cell biology and protein-protein interaction assays in planta to gain insight into the putative functions of candidate effectors. In this study, we used this pipeline to identify and characterize sixteen candidate effectors from the wheat yellow rust fungal pathogen Puccinia striiformis f sp tritici. Nine candidate effectors targeted a specific plant subcellular compartment or protein complex, providing valuable information on their putative functions in plant cells. One candidate effector, PST02549, accumulated in processing bodies (P-bodies), protein complexes involved in mRNA decapping, degradation, and storage. PST02549 also associates with the P-body-resident ENHANCER OF mRNA DECAPPING PROTEIN 4 (EDC4) from N. benthamiana and wheat. Our work identifies P-bodies as a novel plant cell compartment targeted by pathogen effectors.

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