Molecular determinants of resistance activation and suppression by Phytophthora infestans effector IPI-O

PLoS Pathog. 2012;8(3):e1002595. doi: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1002595. Epub 2012 Mar 15.


Despite intensive breeding efforts, potato late blight, caused by the oomycete pathogen Phytophthora infestans, remains a threat to potato production worldwide because newly evolved pathogen strains have consistently overcome major resistance genes. The potato RB gene, derived from the wild species Solanum bulbocastanum, confers resistance to most P. infestans strains through recognition of members of the pathogen effector family IPI-O. While the majority of IPI-O proteins are recognized by RB to elicit resistance (e.g. IPI-O1, IPI-O2), some family members are able to elude detection (e.g. IPI-O4). In addition, IPI-O4 blocks recognition of IPI-O1, leading to inactivation of RB-mediated programmed cell death. Here, we report results that elucidate molecular mechanisms governing resistance elicitation or suppression of RB by IPI-O. Our data indicate self-association of the RB coiled coil (CC) domain as well as a physical interaction between this domain and the effectors IPI-O4 and IPI-O1. We identified four amino acids within IPI-O that are critical for interaction with the RB CC domain and one of these amino acids, at position 129, determines hypersensitive response (HR) elicitation in planta. IPI-O1 mutant L129P fails to induce HR in presence of RB while IPI-O4 P129L gains the ability to induce an HR. Like IPI-O4, IPI-O1 L129P is also able to suppress the HR mediated by RB, indicating a critical step in the evolution of this gene family. Our results point to a model in which IPI-O effectors can affect RB function through interaction with the RB CC domain.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Disease Resistance / genetics*
  • Disease Resistance / immunology
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant
  • Genes, Plant / genetics*
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions / genetics*
  • Immunity, Innate / genetics*
  • Immunity, Innate / immunology
  • Phytophthora infestans / genetics*
  • Phytophthora infestans / metabolism
  • Phytophthora infestans / pathogenicity
  • Plant Diseases / genetics*
  • Plant Diseases / immunology