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BMC Plant Biol. 2010 Mar 21;10:51. doi: 10.1186/1471-2229-10-51.

A plant natriuretic peptide-like molecule of the pathogen Xanthomonas axonopodis pv. citri causes rapid changes in the proteome of its citrus host.

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Molecular Biology Division, Instituto de Biología Molecular y Celular de Rosario, Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas, Facultad de Ciencias Bioquímicas y Farmacéuticas, Universidad Nacional de Rosario, Suipacha 531, (S2002LRK) Rosario, Argentina.



Plant natriuretic peptides (PNPs) belong to a novel class of peptidic signaling molecules that share some structural similarity to the N-terminal domain of expansins and affect physiological processes such as water and ion homeostasis at nano-molar concentrations. The citrus pathogen Xanthomonas axonopodis pv. citri possesses a PNP-like peptide (XacPNP) uniquely present in this bacteria. Previously we observed that the expression of XacPNP is induced upon infection and that lesions produced in leaves infected with a XacPNP deletion mutant were more necrotic and lead to earlier bacterial cell death, suggesting that the plant-like bacterial PNP enables the plant pathogen to modify host responses in order to create conditions favorable to its own survival.


Here we measured chlorophyll fluorescence parameters and water potential of citrus leaves infiltrated with recombinant purified XacPNP and demonstrate that the peptide improves the physiological conditions of the tissue. Importantly, the proteomic analysis revealed that these responses are mirrored by rapid changes in the host proteome that include the up-regulation of Rubisco activase, ATP synthase CF1 alpha subunit, maturase K, and alpha- and beta-tubulin.


We demonstrate that XacPNP induces changes in host photosynthesis at the level of protein expression and in photosynthetic efficiency in particular. Our findings suggest that the biotrophic pathogen can use the plant-like hormone to modulate the host cellular environment and in particular host metabolism and that such modulations weaken host defence.

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