The hrp gene cluster of Xanthomonas spp. contains genes for the assembly and function of a type III secretion system (TTSS). The hrpF genes reside in a region between hpaB and the right end of the hrp cluster. The region of the hrpF gene of Xanthomonas oryzae pv. oryzae is bounded by two IS elements and also contains a homolog of hpaF of X. campestris pv. vesicatoria and two newly identified genes, hpa3 and hpa4. A comparison of the hrp gene clusters of different species of Xanthomonas revealed that the hrpF region is a constant yet more variable peninsula of the hrp pathogenicity island. Mutations in hpaF, hpa3, and hpa4 had no effect on virulence, whereas hrpF mutants were severely reduced in virulence on susceptible rice cultivars. The hrpF genes from X. campestris pv. vesicatoria, X. campestris pv. campestris, and X. axonopodis pv. citri each were capable of restoring virulence to the hrpF mutant of X. oryzae pv. oryzae. Correspondingly, none of the Xanthomonas pathovars with hrpF from X. oryzae pv. oryzae elicited a hypersensitive reaction in their respective hosts. Therefore, no evidence was found for hrpF as a host-specialization factor. In contrast to the loss of Bs3-dependent reactions by hrpF mutants of X. campestris pv. vesicatoria, hrpF mutants of X. oryzae pv. oryzae with either avrXa10 or avrXa7 elicited hypersensitive reactions in rice cultivars with the corresponding R genes. A double hrpFxoo-hpa1 mutant also elicited an Xa10-dependent resistance reaction. Thus, loss of hrpF, hpa1, or both may reduce delivery or effectiveness of type III effectors. However, the mutations did not completely prevent the delivery of effectors from X. oryzae pv. oryzae into the host cells.
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