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Identification and Characterization of the Most Abundant Cellulases in Stylet Secretions from Globodera rostochiensis

February 2009 , Volume 99 , Number  2
Pages  194 - 202

Sajid Rehman, Patrick Butterbach, Herman Popeijus, Hein Overmars, Eric L. Davis, John T. Jones, Aska Goverse, Jaap Bakker, and Geert Smant

First, second, third, fourth, seventh, eighth, and ninth authors: Laboratory of Nematology, Wageningen University, Binnenhaven 5, 6709PD Wageningen, the Netherlands; fifth author: Department of Plant Pathology, North Carolina State University, Campus Box 7903, Raleigh, NC 27695-7616; and sixth author: Plant Pathogen Interactions Programme, Scottish Crop Research Institute, Dundee, DD2 5DA, United Kingdom.

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Accepted for publication 12 September 2008.

Plant-parasitic cyst nematodes secrete cell wall modifying proteins during their invasion of host plants. In this study, we used a monoclonal antibody to immunopurify and to sequence the N terminus of the most abundant cellulases in stylet secretions of preparasitic juveniles of Globodera rostochiensis. The N-terminal amino acid sequence perfectly matched the sequence of an expressed sequence tag of two nearly identical genes, named Gr-eng3 and Gr-eng4, which show relatively low similarity with the previously identified Gr-eng1 and Gr-eng2 (i.e., 62% similarity and 42% identity). The recombinantly produced proteins from Gr-eng3 and Gr-eng4 demonstrated specific activity on carboxymethylcellulose, indicating that these genes encode active cellulases. To date, the cellulases in cyst nematodes are comprised of three possible domain structure variants with different types of ancillary domains at the C terminus of the glycosyl hydrolase family 5 (GHF5) domain. We used Bayesian inference to show that the phylogeny of the GHF5 domain based on currently available data suggest that the extant nematode cellulases arose through reshuffling of the GHF5 domain with different types of ancillary domains as relatively independent units. Knocking-down Gr-eng3 and Gr-eng4 using RNA interference resulted in a reduction of nematode infectivity by 57%. Our observations show that the reduced infectivity of the nematodes can be attributed to poor penetration of the host's root system at the onset of parasitism.

Additional keywords:β-1,4-endoglucanase, cell wall degradation, plant--nematode interactions.

© 2009 The American Phytopathological Society