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A Mating-Induced Protein of Phytophthora infestans Is a Member of a Family of Elicitors with Divergent Structures and Stage-Specific Patterns of Expression

October 2003 , Volume 16 , Number  10
Pages  926 - 935

Anna-Liisa Fabritius and Howard S. Judelson

Department of Plant Pathology, University of California, Riverside, CA 92521 U.S.A.


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Accepted 12 June 2003.

Five members of an elicitor-like gene family from Phytophthora infestans were examined. The family was identified through the analysis of M81, a mating-induced gene. The predicted M81 product resembled a 42-kDa P. sojae glycoprotein known to elicit defense reactions in plants, including a host of P. infestans, potato. M81 was the most structurally and functionally divergent of the P. infestans genes compared with the P. sojae sequence. M81 lacked elicitor activity, had the lowest protein identity (47%), displayed mating-specific transcription, and had a novel C-terminal domain. The latter contained a 30-residue proline- and threonine-rich motif, which, remarkably, was tandemly repeated 24 to 36 times in different alleles. M81C, M81D, and M81E better resembled the P. sojae protein based on amino acid identity (63 to 75%) and conserved elicitor activity. M81C and M81D mRNA accumulated only during zoosporogenesis, while M81E expression was restricted to hyphae. M81B, an apparent pseudogene, was physically linked to M81. The protein products of each gene were predicted to be extracellular transglutaminases ranging in size from 436 to 1,607 amino acids. Genes with an elicitor, proline- and threonine-rich repeat, and both elicitor and repeat domains were widely distributed throughout Phytophthora infestans. These findings help explain the natural functions of elicitors in pathogen biology and plant-microbe interactions.


Additional keywords: oomycete, oosporogenesis, potato late blight.

© 2003 The American Phytopathological Society