The effector protein AvrRpt2EA from Erwinia amylovora induces salicylic acid response in apple
The AvrRpt2EA effector protein of Erwinia amylovora is important for pathogen recognition in the fire blight-resistant crabapple Malus × robusta 5; however, little is known about its role in susceptible apples. To study its function in planta, we expressed a plant-optimized version of AvrRpt2EA driven by a heat shock-inducible promoter in transgenic plants of the fire blight-susceptible cultivar Pinova. After induced expression of AvrRpt2EA, transgenic lines showed shoot necrosis and browning of older leaves, with symptoms similar to natural fire blight infections. Transgenic expression of this effector protein resulted in an increase in the expression of the salicylic acid (SA)-responsive PR-1 gene but, also, in the levels of SA and its derivatives, with diverse kinetics in leaves of different ages. In contrast, no increase of expression levels of VSP2 paralogs, used as marker genes for the activation of the jasmonic acid (JA)-dependent defense pathway, could be detected, which is in agreement with metabolic profiling of JA and its derivatives. Our work demonstrates that AvrRpt2EA acts as a virulence factor and induces the formation of SA and SA-dependent systemic acquired resistance.
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