Rhizogenic Agrobacterium protein RolB interacts with the TOPLESS repressor proteins to reprogram plant immunity and development

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2023 Jan 17;120(3):e2210300120. doi: 10.1073/pnas.2210300120. Epub 2023 Jan 12.


Rhizogenic Agrobacterium strains comprise biotrophic pathogens that cause hairy root disease (HRD) on hydroponically grown Solanaceae and Cucurbitaceae crops, besides being widely explored agents for the creation of hairy root cultures for the sustainable production of plant-specialized metabolites. Hairy root formation is mediated through the expression of genes encoded on the T-DNA of the root-inducing (Ri) plasmid, of which several, including root oncogenic locus B (rolB), play a major role in hairy root development. Despite decades of research, the exact molecular function of the proteins encoded by the rol genes remains enigmatic. Here, by means of TurboID-mediated proximity labeling in tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) hairy roots, we identified the repressor proteins TOPLESS (TPL) and Novel Interactor of JAZ (NINJA) as direct interactors of RolB. Although these interactions allow RolB to act as a transcriptional repressor, our data hint at another in planta function of the RolB oncoprotein. Hence, by a series of plant bioassays, transcriptomic and DNA-binding site enrichment analyses, we conclude that RolB can mitigate the TPL functioning so that it leads to a specific and partial reprogramming of phytohormone signaling, immunity, growth, and developmental processes. Our data support a model in which RolB manipulates host transcription, at least in part, through interaction with TPL, to facilitate hairy root development. Thereby, we provide important mechanistic insights into this renowned oncoprotein in HRD.

Keywords: Rol proteins; Solanum lycopersicum; TOPLESS; hairy roots; rhizogenic Agrobacterium.

MeSH terms

  • Agrobacterium* / genetics
  • Agrobacterium* / metabolism
  • Crops, Agricultural / genetics
  • Plant Immunity
  • Plant Roots / metabolism
  • Plasmids
  • Repressor Proteins* / genetics
  • Repressor Proteins* / metabolism


  • Repressor Proteins