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The Corky Root Rot Pathogen Pyrenochaeta lycopersici Secretes a Proteinaceous Inducer of Cell Death Affecting Host Plants Differentially

September 2012 , Volume 102 , Number  9
Pages  878 - 891

Pierre-Henri Clergeot, Herwig Schuler, Ejvind Mørtz, Maja Brus, Simina Vintila, and Sophia Ekengren

First, fourth, fifth, and sixth authors: Växtfysiology, Botaniska Institutionen, Stockholms Universitet, Stockholm; second author: Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm; and third author: Alphalyse A/S, Odense, Denmark.

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Accepted for publication 22 May 2012.

Pathogenic isolates of Pyrenochaeta lycopersici, the causal agent of corky root rot of tomato, secrete cell death in tomato 1 (CDiT1), a homodimeric protein of 35 kDa inducing cell death after infiltration into the leaf apoplast of tomato. CDiT1 was purified by fast protein liquid chromatography, characterized by mass spectrometry and cDNA cloning. Its activity was confirmed after infiltration of an affinity-purified recombinant fusion of the protein with a C-terminal polyhistidine tag. CDiT1 is highly expressed during tomato root infection compared with axenic culture, and has a putative ortholog in other pathogenic Pleosporales species producing proteinaceous toxins that contribute to virulence. Infiltration of CDiT1 into leaves of other plants susceptible to P. lycopersici revealed that the protein affects them differentially. All varieties of cultivated tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) tested were more sensitive to CDiT1 than those of currant tomato (S. pimpinellifolium). Root infection assays showed that varieties of currant tomato are also significantly less prone to intracellular colonization of their root cells by hyphae of P. lycopersici than varieties of cultivated tomato. Therefore, secretion of this novel type of inducer of cell death during penetration of the fungus inside root cells might favor infection of host species that are highly sensitive to this molecule.

© 2012 The American Phytopathological Society