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Identification and Characterization of Nip, Necrosis-Inducing Virulence Protein of Erwinia carotovora subsp. carotovora

December 2004 , Volume 17 , Number  12
Pages  1,366 - 1,375

Laura Mattinen , 1 Marina Tshuikina , 2 Andres Mäe , 3 and Minna Pirhonen 1 , 2

1Department of Applied Biology, P.O. Box 27, FIN-00014, University of Helsinki, Finland; 2Department of Plant Biology and Forest Genetics, P.O. Box 7080, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, SE-750 07 Uppsala, Sweden; 3Department of Genetics, Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology, Tartu University, Riia Street 23, 51010 Tartu, Estonia

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Accepted 5 August 2004.

Erwinia carotovora subsp. carotovora is a gram-negative bacterium that causes soft rot disease of many cultivated crops. When a collection of E. carotovora subsp. carotovora isolates was analyzed on a Southern blot using the harpin-encoding gene hrpN as probe, several harpinless isolates were found. Regulation of virulence determinants in one of these, strain SCC3193, has been characterized extensively. It is fully virulent on potato and in Arabidopsis thaliana. An RpoS (SigmaS) mutant of SCC3193, producing elevated levels of secreted proteins, was found to cause lesions resembling the hypersensitive response when infiltrated into tobacco leaf tissue. This phenotype was evident only when bacterial cells had been cultivated on solid minimal medium at low pH and temperature. The protein causing the cell death was purified and sequenced, and the corresponding gene was cloned. The deduced sequence of the necrosis-inducing protein (Nip) showed homology to necrosis- and ethylene-inducing elicitors of fungi and oomycetes. A mutant strain of E. carotovora subsp. carotovora lacking the nip gene showed reduced virulence in potato tuber assay but was unaffected in virulence in potato stem or on other tested host plants.

© 2004 The American Phytopathological Society