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Role for novel family of pathogen-induced cysteine-rich transmembrane proteins in disease resistance

By Marciel Pereira Mendes, Richard Hickman, Marcel C. Van Verk, Nicole Nieuwendijk, Anja Reinstädler, Ralph Panstruga, Corné M. J. Pieterse, Saskia C.M. Van Wees

Posted 26 Jul 2020
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.07.25.220970

Plants possess a sophisticated immune system to protect themselves against pathogen attack. The defense hormone salicylic acid (SA) is an important player in the plant immune gene regulatory network. Using RNA-seq time series data of Arabidopsis thaliana leaves treated with SA, we identified a largely uncharacterized SA-responsive gene family of eight members that are all activated in response to various pathogens or their immune elicitors and encode small proteins with cysteine-rich transmembrane domains. Based on their nucleotide similarity and chromosomal position, the designated Pathogen-induced Cysteine-rich transMembrane protein (PCM) genes were subdivided into three subgroups consisting of PCM1-3 (subgroup I), PCM4-6 (subgroup II), and PCM7-8 (subgroup III). Of the PCM genes, only PCM4 (also known as PCC1) has previously been implicated in plant immunity. Transient expression assays in Nicotiana benthamiana indicated that most PCM proteins localize to the plasma membrane. Ectopic overexpression of the PCMs in Arabidopsis resulted in all eight cases in enhanced resistance against the biotrophic oomycete pathogen Hyaloperonospora arabidopsidis Noco2. Additionally, overexpression of PCM subgroup I genes conferred enhanced resistance to the hemi-biotrophic bacterial pathogen Pseudomonas syringae pv. tomato DC3000. Ectopic overexpression of the PCMs also affected the expression of genes related to light signaling and development, and accordingly PCM-overexpressing seedlings displayed elongated hypocotyl growth. These results point to a function of PCMs in both disease resistance and photomorphogenesis, connecting both biological processes, possibly via effects on membrane structure or activity of interacting proteins at the plasma membrane. ### Competing Interest Statement The authors have declared no competing interest.

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