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Identification of a Protein from Rust Fungi Transferred from Haustoria into Infected Plant Cells

November 2005 , Volume 18 , Number  11
Pages  1,130 - 1,139

Eric Kemen , 1 Ariane C. Kemen , 1 Maryam Rafiqi , 2 Uta Hempel , 1 Kurt Mendgen , 1 Matthias Hahn , 2 and Ralf T. Voegele 1

1Phytopathologie, Fachbereich Biologie, Universität Konstanz, 78457 Konstanz, Germany; 2Phytopathologie, Fachbereich Biologie, Technische Universität Kaiserslautern, 67663 Kaiserslautern, Germany

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Accepted 22 July 2005.

The formation of haustoria is one of the hallmarks of the interaction of obligate biotrophic fungi with their host plants. In addition to their role in nutrient uptake, it is hypothesized that haustoria are actively involved in establishing and maintaining the biotrophic relationship. We have identified a 24.3-kDa protein that exhibited a very unusual allocation. Rust transferred protein 1 from Uromyces fabae (Uf-RTP1p) was not only detected in the host parasite interface, the extrahaustorial matrix, but also inside infected plant cells by immunofluorescence and electron microscopy. Uf-RTP1p does not exhibit any similarity to sequences currently listed in the public databases. However, we identified a homolog of Uf-RTP1p in the related rust fungus Uromyces striatus (Us-RTP1p). The localization of Uf-RTP1p and Us-RTP1p inside infected plant cells was confirmed, using four independently raised polyclonal antibodies. Depending on the developmental stage of haustoria, Uf-RTP1p was found in increasing amounts in host cells, including the host nucleus. Putative nuclear localization signals (NLS) were found in the predicted RTP1p sequences. However, functional efficiency could only be verified for the Uf-RTP1p NLS by means of green fluorescent protein fusions in transformed tobacco protoplasts. Western blot analysis indicated that Uf-RTP1p and Us-RTP1p most likely enter the host cell as N-glycosylated proteins. However, the mechanism by which they cross the extrahaustorial membrane and accumulate in the host cytoplasm is unknown. The localization of RTP1p suggests that it might play an important role in the maintenance of the biotrophic interaction.

Additional keywords: haustorium, Medicago truncatula, protein secretion, Vicia faba.

© 2005 The American Phytopathological Society