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Multiple Activities of the Plant Pathogen Type III Effector Proteins WtsE and AvrE Require WxxxE Motifs

June 2009 , Volume 22 , Number  6
Pages  703 - 712

Jong Hyun Ham,1,2 Doris R. Majerczak,2 Kinya Nomura,3 Christy Mecey,3 Francisco Uribe,3 Sheng-Yang He,3 David Mackey,1 and David L. Coplin2

1Department of Horticulture and Crop Science and 2Department of Plant Pathology, The Ohio State University, Columbus 43210, U.S.A.; 3MSU-DOE Plant Research Laboratory, Michigan State University, East Lansing 48824, U.S.A.

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Accepted 10 February 2009.

The broadly conserved AvrE-family of type III effectors from gram-negative plant-pathogenic bacteria includes important virulence factors, yet little is known about the mechanisms by which these effectors function inside plant cells to promote disease. We have identified two conserved motifs in AvrE-family effectors: a WxxxE motif and a putative C-terminal endoplasmic reticulum membrane retention/retrieval signal (ERMRS). The WxxxE and ERMRS motifs are both required for the virulence activities of WtsE and AvrE, which are major virulence factors of the corn pathogen Pantoea stewartii subsp. stewartii and the tomato or Arabidopsis pathogen Pseudomonas syringae pv. tomato, respectively. The WxxxE and the predicted ERMRS motifs are also required for other biological activities of WtsE, including elicitation of the hypersensitive response in nonhost plants and suppression of defense responses in Arabidopsis. A family of type III effectors from mammalian bacterial pathogens requires WxxxE and subcellular targeting motifs for virulence functions that involve their ability to mimic activated G-proteins. The conservation of related motifs and their necessity for the function of type III effectors from plant pathogens indicates that disturbing host pathways by mimicking activated host G-proteins may be a virulence mechanism employed by plant pathogens as well.

© 2009 The American Phytopathological Society