Department of Plant Pathology, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853 U.S.A.
The model plant pathogen Pseudomonas syringae pv. tomato DC3000 grows and produces necrotic lesions in the leaves of its host, tomato. Both abilities are dependent upon the hypersensitive response and pathogenicity (Hrp) type III secretion system (TTSS), which translocates multiple effector proteins into plant cells. A previously constructed DC3000 mutant with a 9.3-kb deletion in the Hrp pathogenicity island conserved effector locus (CEL) was strongly reduced in growth and lesion formation in tomato leaves. The ΔCEL mutation affects three putative or known effector genes: avrE1, hopM1, and hopAA1-1. Comparison of genomic sequences of DC3000, P. syringae pv. phaseolicola 1448A, and P. syringae pv. syringae B728a revealed that these are the only effector genes present in the CEL of all three strains. AvrE1 was shown to carry functional TTSS translocation signals based on the performance of a fusion of the first 315 amino acids of AvrE1 to the Cya translocation reporter. A DC3000 ΔavrE1 mutant was reduced in its ability to produce lesions but not in its ability to grow in host tomato leaves. AvrE1 expressed from the 35S promoter elicited cell death in nonhost Nicotiana tabacum leaves and host tomato leaves in Agrobacterium-mediated transient expression experiments. Mutations involving combinations of avrE1, hopM1, and hopAA1-1 revealed that deletion of both avrE1 and hopM1 reproduced the strongly reduced growth and lesion phenotype of the ΔCEL mutant. Furthermore, quantitative assays involving different levels of inoculum and electrolyte leakage revealed that the avrE1/hopM1 and ΔCEL mutants both were partially impaired in their ability to elicit the hypersensitive response in nonhost N. benthamiana leaves. However, the avrE1/hopM1 mutant was not impaired in its ability to deliver AvrPto1(1--100)-Cya to nonhost N. benthamiana or host tomato leaves during the first 9 h after inoculation. These data suggest that AvrE1 acts within plant cells and promotes lesion formation and that the combined action of AvrE1 and HopM1 is particularly important in promoting bacterial growth in planta.