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Single Amino Acid Mutations in the Potato Immune Receptor R3a Expand Response to Phytophthora Effectors

July 2014 , Volume 27 , Number  7
Pages  624 - 637

María Eugenia Segretin,1,2 Marina Pais,1 Marina Franceschetti,3 Angela Chaparro-Garcia,1 Jorunn I. B. Bos,1 Mark J. Banfield,3 and Sophien Kamoun1

1The Sainsbury Laboratory, Norwich Research Park, Norwich, NR4 7UH, U.K.; 2Instituto de Investigaciones en Ingeniería Genética y Biología Molecular, Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas, Buenos Aires, C1428ADN, Argentina; 3Department of Biological Chemistry, John Innes Centre, Norwich Research Park, Norwich, NR4 7UH, U.K.

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Accepted 13 March 2014.

Both plants and animals rely on nucleotide-binding domain and leucine-rich repeat-containing (NB-LRR or NLR) proteins to respond to invading pathogens and activate immune responses. How plant NB-LRR proteins respond to pathogens is poorly understood. We undertook a gain-of-function random mutagenesis screen of the potato NB-LRR immune receptor R3a to study how this protein responds to the effector protein AVR3a from the oomycete pathogen Phytophthora infestans. R3a response can be extended to the stealthy AVR3aEM isoform of the effector while retaining recognition of AVR3aKI. Each one of eight single amino acid mutations is sufficient to expand the R3a response to AVR3aEM and other AVR3a variants. These mutations occur across the R3a protein, from the N terminus to different regions of the LRR domain. Further characterization of these R3a mutants revealed that at least one of them was sensitized, exhibiting a stronger response than the wild-type R3a protein to AVR3aKI. Remarkably, the N336Y mutation, near the R3a nucleotide-binding pocket, conferred response to the effector protein PcAVR3a4 from the vegetable pathogen P. capsici. This work contributes to understanding how NB-LRR receptor specificity can be modulated. Together with knowledge of pathogen effector diversity, this strategy can be exploited to develop synthetic immune receptors.

© 2014 The American Phytopathological Society