Type III-dependent Translocation of the Xanthomonas AvrBs3 Protein Into the Plant Cell

Mol Microbiol. 2002 Oct;46(1):13-23. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2958.2002.03139.x.


Many plant pathogenic bacteria utilize a conserved type III secretion system (TTSS) to deliver effector proteins into the host tissue. Indirect evidence has suggested that at least some effector proteins are translocated from the bacterial cytoplasm into the plant cell. Using an immunocytochemical approach, we demonstrate that the type III effector AvrBs3 from Xanthomonas campestris pv. vesicatoria localizes to nuclei of infected pepper leaves. Importantly, AvrBs3 translocation was observed in situ in native tissues of susceptible and resistant plants. AvrBs3 was detected in the nucleus as soon as 4 h post infection, which was dependent on a functional TTSS and the putative translocator HrpF. N-terminal AvrBs3 deletion derivatives are no longer secreted by the TTSS in vitro and could not be detected inside the host cells, suggesting that the N-terminus of AvrBs3 is important for secretion. Deletion of the nuclear localization signals in the AvrBs3 C-terminus, which are required for the AvrBs3-mediated induction of the hypersensitive reaction in resistant pepper plants, abolished AvrBs3 localization to the nucleus. This is the first report on direct evidence for translocation of a native type III effector protein from a plant pathogenic bacterium into the host cell.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism*
  • Capsicum / microbiology*
  • Cell Nucleus / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Nuclear Localization Signals / genetics
  • Plant Diseases / microbiology*
  • Plant Leaves / microbiology*
  • Transcription Activator-Like Effectors
  • Xanthomonas campestris / genetics
  • Xanthomonas campestris / pathogenicity*


  • AvrBs4 protein, Xanthomonas campestris
  • Bacterial Proteins
  • HrpF protein, Xanthomonas campestris
  • Nuclear Localization Signals
  • Transcription Activator-Like Effectors