Background: Pathogen infection triggers a large-scale transcriptional reprogramming in plants, and the speed of this reprogramming affects the outcome of the infection. Our understanding of this process has significantly benefited from mutants that display either delayed or accelerated defense gene induction. In our previous work we demonstrated that the Arabidopsis Elongator complex subunit 2 (AtELP2) plays an important role in both basal immunity and effector-triggered immunity (ETI), and more recently showed that AtELP2 is involved in dynamic changes in histone acetylation and DNA methylation at several defense genes. However, the function of other Elongator subunits in plant immunity has not been characterized.
Results: In the same genetic screen used to identify Atelp2, we found another Elongator mutant, Atelp3-10, which mimics Atelp2 in that it exhibits a delay in defense gene induction following salicylic acid treatment or pathogen infection. Similarly to AtELP2, AtELP3 is required for basal immunity and ETI, but not for systemic acquired resistance (SAR). Furthermore, we demonstrate that both the histone acetyltransferase and radical S-adenosylmethionine domains of AtELP3 are essential for its function in plant immunity.
Conclusion: Our results indicate that the entire Elongator complex is involved in basal immunity and ETI, but not in SAR, and support that Elongator may play a role in facilitating the transcriptional induction of defense genes through alterations to their chromatin.