Plant Pathology Laboratory, Graduate School of Bioagricultural Sciences, Nagoya University, Chikusa, Nagoya 464-8601, Japan
The oxidative burst has been suggested to be a primary event responsible for triggering the cascade of defense responses in various plant species against infection with avirulent pathogens or pathogen-derived elicitors. The molecular mechanisms of rapid production of active oxygen species (AOS), however, are not well known. We isolated homologs of gp91 phox, a plasma membrane protein of the neutrophil NADPH oxidase, from a potato cDNA library. Molecular cloning of the cDNA showed that there are two isogenes, designated StrbohA and StrbohB, respectively. The RNA gel blot analyses showed that StrbohA was constitutively expressed at a low level, whereas StrbohB was induced by hyphal wall components (HWC elicitor) from Phytophthora infestans in potato tubers. Treatment of potato tubers with HWC elicitor caused a rapid but weak transient accumulation of H2O2 (phase I), followed by a massive oxidative burst 6 to 9 h after treatment (phase II). Diphenylene iodonium (DPI), an inhibitor of the neutrophil NADPH oxidase, blocked both bursts, whereas pretreatment of the protein synthesis inhibitor cycloheximide with the tuber abolished only the second burst. These results suggest that the expression of StrbohA and StrbohB contributes to phase I and II bursts, respectively. The same is true for arachidonic acid, a lipid component of P. infestans-stimulated biphasic oxidative burst, whereas an endogenous signaling molecule, salicylic acid, only induced a weak phase II burst. Both molecules induced the StrbohB expression, which is in agreement with the second burst. To characterize the signal transduction pathway leading to the oxidative burst, we examined the role of protein phosphorylation in HWC-stimulated StrbohB gene expression. K252a and staurosporine, two protein kinase inhibitors, blocked the transcript accumulation. Two inhibitors of extracellular Ca2+ movement, however, did not abolish the transcript accumulation of StrbohB, suggesting that certain calcium-independent protein kinases are involved in the process of StrbohB gene expression. Additionally, we examined a causal relationship between the oxidative burst and expression of defense genes induced by the HWC elicitor. The transcript accumulation of genes related to sesquiterpenoid phytoalexin synthesis (lubimin and rishitin) and phenylpropanoid pathway was inhibited slightly by the DPI treatment, suggesting that the oxidative burst is not essential to activate these genes. Interestingly, the concomitant presence of DPI with the elicitor resulted in an increase in lubimin accumulation and a decrease in rishitin accumulation. Because it is known that lubimin is metabolized into rishitin via oxylubimin, we propose that AOS mediates the synthesis of rishitin from lubimin.