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Assignment of Amino Acid Residues of the AVR9 Peptide of Cladosporium fulvum That Determine Elicitor Activity

September 1997 , Volume 10 , Number  7
Pages  821 - 829

Miriam Kooman-Gersmann , Ralph Vogelsang , Erwin C. M. Hoogendijk , and Pierre J. G. M. De Wit

Department of Phytopathology, Wageningen Agricultural University, P.O. Box 8025, 6700 EE Wageningen, the Netherlands

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Accepted 18 June 1997.

The AVR9 peptide of Cladosporium fulvum is an elicitor of the hypersensitive response in tomato plants carrying the Cf-9 resistance gene (MM-Cf9). To determine the structure-activity relationship of the AVR9 peptide, amino acids important for AVR9 elicitor activity were identified by independently substituting each amino acid of AVR9 by alanine. In addition, surface-exposed amino acid residues of AVR9 were substituted by other amino acids. Activity of the mutant Avr9 constructs was studied by expressing the constructs in MM-Cf9 tomato plants, using the potato virus X (PVX) expression system and assessing the severity of necrosis induced by each PVX∷Avr9 construct. This allowed direct identification of amino acid residues of AVR9 that are essential for elicitor activity. We identified amino acid substitutions that resulted in AVR9 mutants with higher, similar, or lower elicitor activity compared to the wild-type AVR9 peptide. Some mutants had completely lost elicitor activity. A selection of peptides, representing different categories, was isolated and injected into leaves of MM-Cf9 plants. The necrosis-inducing activity of the isolated peptides correlated well with the necrosis induced by the corresponding PVX∷Avr9 derivatives. Based on the necrosis-inducing activity of the mutant AVR9 peptides and the global structure of AVR9, we assigned sites in AVR9 that are important for its necrosis-inducing activity. We postulate that the “hydrophobic β-loop” region of the AVR9 peptide is crucial for necrosis-inducing activity in tomato plants that carry the Cf-9 resistance gene.

Additional keywords: alanine scan, cystine knot, gene-for-gene, site-directed mutagenesis.

© 1997 The American Phytopathological Society