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Mol Plant Pathol. 2016 Aug;17(6):875-89. doi: 10.1111/mpp.12337. Epub 2016 Feb 8.

Comparison of gene activation by two TAL effectors from Xanthomonas axonopodis pv. manihotis reveals candidate host susceptibility genes in cassava.

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Department of Plant and Microbial Biology, University of California, Berkeley, CA, 94720-3120, USA.
Department of General Genetics, Center of Plant Molecular Biology (ZMBP) University of Tübingen, D-72076, Tübingen, Germany.


Xanthomonas axonopodis pv. manihotis (Xam) employs transcription activator-like (TAL) effectors to promote bacterial growth and symptom formation during infection of cassava. TAL effectors are secreted via the bacterial type III secretion system into plant cells, where they are directed to the nucleus, bind DNA in plant promoters and activate the expression of downstream genes. The DNA-binding activity of TAL effectors is carried out by a central domain which contains a series of repeat variable diresidues (RVDs) that dictate the sequence of bound nucleotides. TAL14Xam668 promotes virulence in Xam strain Xam668 and has been shown to activate multiple cassava genes. In this study, we used RNA sequencing to identify the full target repertoire of TAL14Xam668 in cassava, which includes over 50 genes. A subset of highly up-regulated genes was tested for activation by TAL14CIO151 from Xam strain CIO151. Although TAL14CIO151 and TAL14Xam668 differ by only a single RVD, they display differential activation of gene targets. TAL14CIO151 complements the TAL14Xam668 mutant defect, implying that shared target genes are important for TAL14Xam668 -mediated disease susceptibility. Complementation with closely related TAL effectors is a novel approach to the narrowing down of biologically relevant susceptibility genes of TAL effectors with multiple targets. This study provides an example of how TAL effector target activation by two strains within a single species of Xanthomonas can be dramatically affected by a small change in RVD-nucleotide affinity at a single site, and reflects the parameters of RVD-nucleotide interaction determined using designer TAL effectors in transient systems.


Manihot esculenta (cassava); TAL14; susceptibility (S) gene; transcription activator-like effector (TAL effector), Xanthomonas axonopodis pv. manihotis (Xam)

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