A translocation signal for delivery of oomycete effector proteins inside host plant cells

Stephen C. Whisson, Petra C. Boevink, Lucy Moleleki, Anna O. Avrova, Juan G. Morales, Eleanor M. Gilroy, Miles R. Armstrong, Severine Grouffaud, Pieter van West, Sean Chapman, Ingo Hein, Ian K. Toth, Leighton Pritchard, Paul R. J. Birch

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    599 Citations (Scopus)


    Bacterial1, oomycete2 and fungal3 plant pathogens establish disease by translocation of effector proteins into host cells, where they may directly manipulate host innate immunity. In bacteria, translocation is through the type III secretion system1, but analogous processes for effector delivery are uncharacterized in fungi and oomycetes. Here we report functional analyses of two motifs, RXLR and EER, present in translocated oomycete effectors2. We use the Phytophthora infestans RXLR-EER-containing protein Avr3a as a reporter for translocation because it triggers RXLR-EER-independent hypersensitive cell death following recognition within plant cells that contain the R3a resistance protein4, 5. We show that Avr3a, with or without RXLR-EER motifs, is secreted from P. infestans biotrophic structures called haustoria, demonstrating that these motifs are not required for targeting to haustoria or for secretion. However, following replacement of Avr3a RXLR-EER motifs with alanine residues, singly or in combination, or with residues KMIK-DDK—representing a change that conserves physicochemical properties of the protein—P. infestans fails to deliver Avr3a or an Avr3a–GUS fusion protein into plant cells, demonstrating that these motifs are required for translocation. We show that RXLR-EER-encoding genes are transcriptionally upregulated during infection. Bioinformatic analysis identifies 425 potential genes encoding secreted RXLR-EER class proteins in the P. infestans genome. Identification of this class of proteins provides unparalleled opportunities to determine how oomycetes manipulate hosts to establish infection.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)115-118
    Number of pages4
    Issue number7166
    Publication statusPublished - Nov 2007


    • Phytophthora infestans
    • Pseudomonas-syringae
    • Potato infection
    • Downy mildew
    • Avirulence
    • Gene
    • Resistance
    • Secretion
    • Pathogen
    • Transcription


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