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Mol Plant Microbe Interact. 2006 Oct;19(10):1092-102.

WtsE, an AvrE-family effector protein from Pantoea stewartii subsp. stewartii, causes disease-associated cell death in corn and requires a chaperone protein for stability.

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Department of Plant Pathology, The Ohio State University, Columbus 43210-1087, USA.


The pathogenicity of Pantoea stewartii subsp. stewartii to sweet corn and maize requires a Hrp type III secretion system. In this study, we genetically and functionally characterized a disease-specific (Dsp) effector locus, composed of wtsE and wtsF, that is adjacent to the hrp gene cluster. WtsE, a member of the AvrE family of effector proteins, was essential for pathogenesis on corn and was complemented by DspA/E from Erwinia amylovora. An intact C-terminus of WtsE, which contained a putative endoplasmic reticulum membrane retention signal, was important for function of WtsE. Delivery of WtsE into sweet corn leaves by an Escherichia coli strain carrying the hrp cluster of Erwinia chrysanthemi caused water-soaking and necrosis. WtsE-induced cell death was not inhibited by cycloheximide treatment, unlike the hypersensitive response caused by a known Avr protein, AvrRxol. WtsF, the putative chaperone of WtsE, was not required for secretion of WtsE from P. stewartii, and the virulence of wtsF mutants was reduced only at low inoculum concentrations. However, WtsF was required for full accumulation of WtsE within the bacteria at low temperatures. In contrast, WtsF was needed for efficient delivery of WtsE from E. coli via the Erwinia chrysanthemi Hrp system.

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