An Expansin-Like Candidate Effector Protein from Pratylenchus penetrans Modulates Immune Responses in Nicotiana benthamiana
Nemchinov, Lev G.
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The root lesion nematode (RLN) Pratylenchus penetrans is a migratory species that attacks a broad range of crops. After the RLN is initially attracted to host roots by root exudates and compounds, it releases secretions that are critical for successful parasitism. Among those secretions are nematode virulence factors or effectors that facilitate the entry and migration of nematodes through the roots and modulate plant immune defenses. The recognition of the effectors by host resistance proteins leads to effector-triggered immunity and incompatible plant- nematode interactions. Although many candidate effectors of the RLN and other plant-parasitic nematodes have been identified, the detailed mechanisms of their functions and particularly, their host targets remain largely unexplored. In this study, we sequenced and annotated genes encoding expansin-like proteins, which are major candidate effectors of P. penetrans. One of the genes, Pp-EXPB1, which was the most highly expressed during nematode infection in different plant species, was further functionally characterized via transient expression in the model plant Nicotiana benthamiana and global transcriptome profiling of gene expression changes triggered by this candidate effector in plants. As a result of this investigation, the biological roles of Pp-EXPB1 in nematode parasitism were proposed, the putative cellular targets of the proteins were identified, and the molecular mechanisms of plant responses to the nematode-secreted proteins were outlined.