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Mol Plant Microbe Interact. 2012 May;25(5):697-708. doi: 10.1094/MPMI-10-11-0269.

Nontoxic Nep1-like proteins of the downy mildew pathogen Hyaloperonospora arabidopsidis: repression of necrosis-inducing activity by a surface-exposed region.

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Plant-microbe interactions, Department of Biology, Utrecht University, Padualaan 8, 3508 CH Utrecht, The Netherlands.


The genome of the downy mildew pathogen Hyaloperonospora arabidopsidis encodes necrosis and ethylene-inducing peptide 1 (Nep1)-like proteins (NLP). Although NLP are widely distributed in eukaryotic and prokaryotic plant pathogens, it was surprising to find these proteins in the obligate biotrophic oomycete H. arabidopsidis. Therefore, we analyzed the H. arabidopsidis NLP (HaNLP) family and identified 12 HaNLP genes and 15 pseudogenes. Most of the 27 genes form an H. arabidopsidis-specific cluster when compared with other oomycete NLP genes, suggesting this class of effectors has recently expanded in H. arabidopsidis. HaNLP transcripts were mainly detected during early infection stages. Agrobacterium tumefaciens-mediated transient expression and infiltration of recombinant NLP into tobacco and Arabidopsis leaves revealed that all HaNLP tested are noncytotoxic proteins. Even HaNLP3, which is most similar to necrosis-inducing NLP proteins of other oomycetes and which contains all amino acids that are critical for necrosis-inducing activity, did not induce necrosis. Chimeras constructed between HaNLP3 and the necrosis-inducing PsojNIP protein demonstrated that most of the HaNLP3 protein is functionally equivalent to PsojNIP, except for an exposed domain that prevents necrosis induction. The early expression and species-specific expansion of the HaNLP genes is suggestive of an alternative function of noncytolytic NLP proteins during biotrophic infection of plants.

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