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Hibiscus chlorotic ringspot virus Coat Protein Upregulates Sulfur Metabolism Genes for Enhanced Pathogen Defense

December 2012 , Volume 25 , Number  12
Pages  1,574 - 1,583

Ruimin Gao,1 Florence Kai Lin Ng,1 Peng Liu,2 and Sek-Man Wong1,2

1Department of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore, 117543, Singapore; 2Temasek Life Sciences Laboratory, 1 Research Link, 117604, Singapore

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Accepted 28 August 2012.

In both Hibiscus chlorotic ringspot virus (HCRSV)-infected and HCRSV coat protein (CP) agroinfiltrated plant leaves, we showed that sulfur metabolism pathway related genes—namely, sulfite oxidase (SO), sulfite reductase, and adenosine 5′-phosphosulfate kinase—were upregulated. It led us to examine a plausible relationship between sulfur-enhanced resistance (SED) and HCRSV infection. We broadened an established method to include different concentrations of sulfur (0S, 1S, 2S, and 3S) to correlate them to symptom development of HCRSV-infected plants. We treated plants with glutathione and its inhibitor to verify the SED effect. Disease resistance was induced through elevated glutathione contents during HCRSV infection. The upregulation of SO was related to suppression of symptom development induced by sulfur treatment. In this study, we established that HCRSV-CP interacts with SO which, in turn, triggers SED and leads to enhanced plant resistance. Thus, we have discovered a new function of SO in the SED pathway. This is the first report to demonstrate that the interaction of a viral protein and host protein trigger SED in plants. It will be interesting if such interaction applies generally to other host–pathogen interactions that will lead to enhanced pathogen defense.

© 2012 The American Phytopathological Society