Involvement of cathepsin B in the plant disease resistance hypersensitive response

Plant J. 2007 Oct;52(1):1-13. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-313X.2007.03226.x. Epub 2007 Aug 14.


A diverse range of plant proteases are implicated in pathogen perception and in subsequent signalling and execution of disease resistance. We demonstrate, using protease inhibitors and virus-induced gene silencing (VIGS), that the plant papain cysteine protease cathepsin B is required for the disease resistance hypersensitive response (HR). VIGS of cathepsin B prevented programmed cell death (PCD) and compromised disease resistance induced by two distinct non-host bacterial pathogens. It also suppressed the HR triggered by transient co-expression of potato R3a and Phytophthora infestans Avr3a genes. However, VIGS of cathepsin B did not compromise HR following recognition of Cladosporium fulvum AVR4 by tomato Cf-4, indicating that plant PCD can be independent of cathepsin B. The non-host HR to Erwinia amylovora was accompanied by a transient increase in cathepsin B transcript level and enzymatic activity and induction of the HR marker gene Hsr203. VIGS of cathepsin B significantly reduced the induction of Hsr203 following E. amylovora challenge, further demonstrating a role for this protease in PCD. Whereas cathepsin B is often relocalized from the lysosome to the cytosol during animal PCD, plant cathepsin B is secreted into the apoplast, and is activated upon secretion in the absence of pathogen challenge.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Base Sequence
  • Cathepsin B / genetics
  • Cathepsin B / metabolism*
  • DNA Primers
  • Gene Silencing
  • Genetic Markers
  • Plant Diseases / microbiology*
  • Plant Diseases / virology
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction


  • DNA Primers
  • Genetic Markers
  • Cathepsin B