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Members of the Meloidogyne Avirulence Protein Family Contain Multiple Plant Ligand-Like Motifs

August 2014 , Volume 104 , Number  8
Pages  879 - 885

William B. Rutter, Tarek Hewezi, Tom R. Maier, Melissa G. Mitchum, Eric L. Davis, Richard S. Hussey, and Thomas J. Baum

First, third, and seventh authors: Department of Plant Pathology and Microbiology, Iowa State University, Ames 50011; second author: Department of Plant Sciences, University of Tennessee, Knoxville 37996-4561; fourth author: Division of Plant Sciences and Bond Life Sciences Center, University of Missouri, Columbia 65211; fifth author: Department of Plant Pathology, North Carolina State University, Raleigh 27695; and sixth author: Department of Plant Pathology, University of Georgia, Athens 30602-7274.

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Accepted for publication 5 February 2014.

Sedentary plant-parasitic nematodes engage in complex interactions with their host plants by secreting effector proteins. Some effectors of both root-knot nematodes (Meloidogyne spp.) and cyst nematodes (Heterodera and Globodera spp.) mimic plant ligand proteins. Most prominently, cyst nematodes secrete effectors that mimic plant CLAVATA3/ESR-related (CLE) ligand proteins. However, only cyst nematodes have been shown to secrete such effectors and to utilize CLE ligand mimicry in their interactions with host plants. Here, we document the presence of ligand-like motifs in bona fide root-knot nematode effectors that are most similar to CLE peptides from plants and cyst nematodes. We have identified multiple tandem CLE-like motifs conserved within the previously identified Meloidogyne avirulence protein (MAP) family that are secreted from root-knot nematodes and have been shown to function in planta. By searching all 12 MAP family members from multiple Meloidogyne spp., we identified 43 repetitive CLE-like motifs composing 14 unique variants. At least one CLE-like motif was conserved in each MAP family member. Furthermore, we documented the presence of other conserved sequences that resemble the variable domains described in Heterodera and Globodera CLE effectors. These findings document that root-knot nematodes appear to use CLE ligand mimicry and point toward a common host node targeted by two evolutionarily diverse groups of nematodes. As a consequence, it is likely that CLE signaling pathways are important in other phytonematode pathosystems as well.

© 2014 The American Phytopathological Society