Plasmodiophora brassicae is a soil-borne pathogen that belongs to Rhizaria, an almost unexplored eukaryotic organism group. This pathogen requires a living host for growth and multiplication, which makes molecular analysis further complicated. To broaden our understanding of a plasmodiophorid such as P. brassicae, we here chose to study immunophilins, a group of proteins known to have various cellular functions, including involvement in plant defense and pathogen virulence. Searches in the P. brassicae genome resulted in 20 putative immunophilins comprising of 11 cyclophilins (CYPs), 7 FK506-binding proteins (FKBPs) and 2 parvulin-like proteins. RNAseq data showed that immunophilins were differentially regulated in enriched life stages such as germinating spores, maturing spores, and plasmodia, and infected Brassica hosts (B. rapa, B. napus and B. oleracea). PbCYP3 was highly induced in all studied life stages and during infection of all three Brassica hosts, and hence was selected for further analysis. PbCYP3 was heterologously expressed in Magnaporthe oryzae gene-inactivated ΔCyp1 strain. The new strain ΔCyp1+ overexpressing PbCYP3 showed increased virulence on rice compared to the ΔCyp1 strain. These results suggest that the predicted immunophilins and particularly PbCYP3 are activated during plant infection. M. oryzae is a well-studied fungal pathogen and could be a valuable tool for future functional studies of P. brassicae genes, particularly elucidating their role during various infection phases.
Keywords: Cyclophilin; Immunophilin; Plasmodiophora brassicae; Rhizaria.