Erwinia carotovora, a widespread plant pathogen that causes soft rot disease in many plants, is considered a major threat in agriculture. Bacterial glutathione transferases (GSTs) play important roles in a variety of metabolic pathways and processes, such as the biodegradation of xenobiotics, protection against abiotic stress, and resistance against antimicrobial drugs. The GST family of canonical soluble enzymes from Erwinia carotovora subsp. atroseptica strain SCRI1043 (EcaGSTs) was investigated. Genome analysis showed the presence of six putative canonical cytoplasmic EcaGSTs, which were revealed by phylogenetic analysis to belong to the well-characterized GST classes beta, nu, phi, and zeta. The analysis also revealed the presence of two isoenzymes that were phylogenetically close to the omega class of GSTs, but formed a distinct class. The EcaGSTs were cloned and expressed in Escherichia coli, and their catalytic activity toward different electrophilic substrates was elucidated. The EcaGSTs catalyzed different types of reactions, although all enzymes were particularly active in reactions involving electrophile substitution. Gene and protein expression profiling conducted under normal culture conditions as well as in the presence of the herbicide alachlor and the xenobiotic 1-chloro-2,4-dinitrobenzene (CDNB) showed that the isoenzyme EcaGST1, belonging to the omega-like class, was specifically induced at both the protein and mRNA levels. EcaGST1 presumably participates in counteracting the xenobiotic toxicity and/or abiotic stress conditions, and may therefore represent a novel molecular target in the development of new chemical treatments to control soft rot diseases.
Keywords: Abiotic stress; Detoxification; Erwinia carotovora; Glutathione transferase; Plant pathogen; Xenobiotics.