Downy Mildew effector HaRxL21 interacts with the transcriptional repressor TOPLESS to promote pathogen susceptibility

PLoS Pathog. 2020 Aug 12;16(8):e1008835. doi: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1008835. eCollection 2020 Aug.


Hyaloperonospora arabidopsidis (Hpa) is an oomycete pathogen causing Arabidopsis downy mildew. Effector proteins secreted from the pathogen into the plant play key roles in promoting infection by suppressing plant immunity and manipulating the host to the pathogen's advantage. One class of oomycete effectors share a conserved 'RxLR' motif critical for their translocation into the host cell. Here we characterize the interaction between an RxLR effector, HaRxL21 (RxL21), and the Arabidopsis transcriptional co-repressor Topless (TPL). We establish that RxL21 and TPL interact via an EAR motif at the C-terminus of the effector, mimicking the host plant mechanism for recruiting TPL to sites of transcriptional repression. We show that this motif, and hence interaction with TPL, is necessary for the virulence function of the effector. Furthermore, we provide evidence that RxL21 uses the interaction with TPL, and its close relative TPL-related 1, to repress plant immunity and enhance host susceptibility to both biotrophic and necrotrophic pathogens.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Arabidopsis / immunology*
  • Arabidopsis / microbiology
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / genetics
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / metabolism*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions / immunology*
  • Oomycetes / physiology*
  • Plant Diseases / immunology*
  • Plant Diseases / microbiology
  • Plant Immunity / immunology*
  • Virulence
  • Virulence Factors / genetics
  • Virulence Factors / metabolism*


  • Arabidopsis Proteins
  • Virulence Factors
  • topless protein, Arabidopsis