ABSTRACT: 'Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus' is known as the most pathogenic organism associated with citrus greening disease. Since its publicized emergence in Florida in 2005, 'Ca. L. asiaticus' remains unculturable. Currently, a limited number of potential disease effectors have been identified through in silico analysis. Therefore, these potential effectors remain poorly characterized and do not fully explain the complexity of symptoms observed in citrus trees infected with 'Ca. L. asiaticus.' LotP has been identified as a potential effector and have been partially characterized. This protein retains structural homology to the substrate binding domain of the Lon protease. LotP interacts with chaperones like GroEL, Hsp40, DnaJ, and ClpX and may exercise its biological role through interactions with different proteins involved in proteostasis networks. Here, we evaluate the interactome of LotP-revealing a new protein-protein interaction target (Lon-serine protease) and its effect on citrus plant tissue integrity. We found that via protein-protein interactions, LotP can enhance Lon protease activity, increasing the degradation rate of its specific targets. Infiltration of purified LotP strained citrus plant tissue causing photoinhibition and chlorosis after several days. Proteomics analysis of LotP tissues recovering after the infiltration revealed a large abundance of plant proteins associated with the stabilization and processing of mRNA transcripts, a subset of important transcription factors; and pathways associated with innate plant defense were highly expressed. Furthermore, interactions and substrate binding module of LotP suggest potential interactions with plant proteins, most likely proteases.
Project description:Liberibacter asiaticus is an unculturable parasitic bacterium of the alphaproteobacteria group hosted by both citrus plants and a psyllid insect vector (Diaphorina citri). In the citrus tree, the bacteria thrive only inside the phloem, causing a systemically incurable and deadly plant disease named citrus greening or Huanglongbing. Currently, all commercial citrus cultivars in production are susceptible to L. asiaticus, representing a serious threat to the citrus industry worldwide. The technical inability to isolate and culture L. asiaticus has hindered progress in understanding the biology of this bacterium directly. Consequently, a deep understanding of the biological pathways involved in the regulation of host-pathogen interactions becomes critical to rationally design future and necessary strategies of control. In this work, we used surrogate strains to evaluate the biochemical characteristics and biological significance of CLIBASIA_03135. This gene, highly induced during early stages of plant infection, encodes a 23 kDa protein and was renamed in this work as LotP. This protein belongs to an uncharacterized family of proteins with an overall structure resembling the LON protease N-terminus. Co-immunoprecipitation assays allowed us to identify the Liberibacter chaperonin GroEL as the main LotP-interacting protein. The specific interaction between LotP and GroEL was reconstructed and confirmed using a two-hybrid system in Escherichia coli. Furthermore, it was demonstrated that LotP has a native molecular weight of 44 kDa, corresponding to a dimer in solution with ATPase activity in vitro. In Liberibacter crescens, LotP is strongly induced in response to conditions with high osmolarity but repressed at high temperatures. Electrophoretic mobility shift assay (EMSA) results suggest that LotP is a member of the LdtR regulon and could play an important role in tolerance to osmotic stress.
Project description:Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus "Las" is a phloem-limited bacterial plant pathogen, and the most prevalent species of Liberibacter associated with citrus huanglongbing (HLB), a devastating disease of citrus worldwide. Although, the complete sequence of the Las genome provides the basis for studying functional genomics of Las and molecular mechanisms of Las-plant interactions, the functional characterization of Las effectors remains a slow process since remains to be cultured. Like other plant pathogens, Las may deliver effector proteins into host cells and modulate a variety of host cellular functions for their infection progression. In this study, we identified 16 putative Las effectors via bioinformatics, and transiently expressed them in Nicotiana benthamiana. Diverse subcellular localization with different shapes and aggregation patterns of the effector candidates were revealed by UV- microscopy after transient expression in leaf tissue. Intriguingly, one of the 16 candidates, Las5315mp (mature protein), was localized in the chloroplast and induced cell death at 3 days post inoculation (dpi) in N. benthamiana. Moreover, Las5315mp induced strong callose deposition in plant cells. This study provides new insights into the localizations and potential roles of these Las effectors in planta.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Citrus Huanglongbing (HLB) is a bacterial disease with high economic significance. The associated agent Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus is a fastidious, phloem-limited, intracellular bacterium that is transmitted by an insect vector the Asian citrus psyllid (ACP). The genome of Ca. L. asiaticus contains protein secretion machinery that suggests host cell modulation capacity of this bacterium. RESULTS:A total of 28 candidate effectors, an important class of secreted proteins, were predicted from the Ca. L. asiaticus genome. Sequence specific primers were designed for reverse transcription (RT) and quantitative PCR (qPCR), and expression was validated for 20 of the effector candidates in infected citrus with multiple genetic background. Using detached leaf inoculation, the mRNA of effectors was detected from 6?h to 7?days post ACP exposure. It was observed that higher bacterial titers were associated with a larger number of effectors showing amplification across all samples. The effectors' expression were compared in citrus hosts with various levels of HLB tolerance, including susceptible Duncan grapefruit and Washington navel orange, tolerant citron and Cleopatra mandarin, and resistant Pomeroy trifoliate and Carrizo citrange. Across all genotypes relatively high expression was observed for CLIBASIA_03695, CLIBASIA_00460, CLIBASIA_00420, CLIBASIA_04580, CLIBASIA_05320, CLIBASIA_04425, CLIBASIA_00525 and CLIBASIA_05315 in either a host-specific or -nonspecific manners. The two genotypes in each HLB-response group also show effector-expression profiles that seem to be different. In a companion study, the expression of effectors was compared between leaves and roots of own-rooted citrus that had been Ca. L. asiaticus-infected for more than a year. Results indicated relatively high expression of CLIBASIA_03875, CLIBASIA_04800 and CLIBASIA_05640 in all leaf and some root tissues of citron, Duncan and Cleopatra. CONCLUSION:This temporal and spatial expression analysis of Ca. L. asiaticus effectors identified candidates possibly critical for early bacterial colonization, host tolerance suppression and long-term survival which are all worthy of further investigation.
Project description:‘Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus’ (CLas) is a bacterium that causes Huanglongbing, also known as citrus greening, in citrus plants. ‘Candidatus Liberibacter solanacearum’ (Lso) is a close relative of CLas and in the US it infects solanaceous crops, causing zebra chip disease in potato. Previously, we have identified the Lso hypothetical protein effector 1 (Lso-HPE1). This protein uses a signal peptide for secretion; disrupts programmed cell death; and interacts with tomato RAD23c, d, and e proteins, but not with RAD23a. In this study, we evaluated whether CLIBASIA_00460, the CLas homolog of Lso-HPE1 interacted with citrus RAD23 proteins and disrupted their programmed cell death. Based on the yeast two-hybrid assay results, CLIBASIA_00460 interacted with citrus RAD23c and RAD23d, but not with citrus RAD23b. These results were confirmed using bimolecular fluorescence complementation assays, which showed that these interactions occurred in cell puncta, but not in the nucleus or cytoplasm. Additionally, CLIBASIA_00460 was able to disrupt the PrfD1416V-induced hypersensitive response. Therefore, based on the similar interactions between Lso-HPE1 and CLIBASIA_00460 with the host RAD23 proteins and their ability to inhibit cell death in plants, we propose that these effectors may have similar functions during plant infection.
Project description:'Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus' is a fastidious bacterium and a putative agent of citrus greening disease (a.k.a., huanglongbing, HLB), a significant agricultural disease that affects citrus fruit quality and tree health. In citrus, 'Ca. L. asiaticus' is phloem limited. Lack of culture tools to study 'Ca. L. asiaticus' complicates analysis of this important organism. To improve understanding of 'Ca. L. asiaticus'-host interactions including parameters that affect 'Ca. L. asiaticus' replication, methods suitable for screening pathogen responses to physicochemical and nutritional variables are needed. We describe a leaf disc-based culture assay that allows highly selective measurement of changes in 'Ca. L. asiaticus' DNA within plant tissue incubated under specific physicochemical and nutritional conditions. qPCR analysis targeting the hypothetical gene CD16-00155 (strain A4) allowed selective quantification of 'Ca. L. asiaticus' DNA content within infected tissue. 'Ca. L. asiaticus' DNA replication was observed in response to glucose exclusively under microaerobic conditions, and the antibiotic amikacin further enhanced 'Ca. L. asiaticus' DNA replication. Metabolite profiling revealed a moderate impact of 'Ca. L. asiaticus' on the ability of leaf tissue to metabolize and respond to glucose.
Project description:The diversity and stability of bacterial communities present in the rhizosphere heavily influence soil and plant quality and ecosystem sustainability. The goal of this study is to understand how 'Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus' (known to cause Huanglongbing, HLB) influences the structure and functional potential of microbial communities associated with the citrus rhizosphere. Clone library sequencing and taxon/group-specific quantitative real-time PCR results showed that 'Ca. L. asiaticus' infection restructured the native microbial community associated with citrus rhizosphere. Within the bacterial community, phylum Proteobacteria with various genera typically known as successful rhizosphere colonizers were significantly greater in clone libraries from healthy samples, whereas phylum Acidobacteria, Actinobacteria and Firmicutes, typically more dominant in the bulk soil were higher in 'Ca. L. asiaticus'-infected samples. A comprehensive functional microarray GeoChip 3.0 was used to determine the effects of 'Ca. L. asiaticus' infection on the functional diversity of rhizosphere microbial communities. GeoChip analysis showed that HLB disease has significant effects on various functional guilds of bacteria. Many genes involved in key ecological processes such as nitrogen cycling, carbon fixation, phosphorus utilization, metal homeostasis and resistance were significantly greater in healthy than in the 'Ca. L. asiaticus'-infected citrus rhizosphere. Our results showed that the microbial community of the 'Ca. L. asiaticus'-infected citrus rhizosphere has shifted away from using more easily degraded sources of carbon to the more recalcitrant forms. Overall, our study provides evidence that the change in plant physiology mediated by 'Ca. L. asiaticus' infection could elicit shifts in the composition and functional potential of rhizosphere microbial communities. In the long term, these fluctuations might have important implications for the productivity and sustainability of citrus-producing agro-ecosystems.
Project description:Most pathogenic bacteria deliver virulence factors into host cytosol through type III secretion systems (T3SS) to perturb host immune responses. The expression of T3SS is often repressed in rich medium but is specifically induced in the host environment. The molecular mechanisms underlying host-specific induction of T3SS expression is not completely understood. Here we demonstrate in Xanthomonas citri that host-induced phosphorylation of the ATP-dependent protease Lon stabilizes HrpG, the master regulator of T3SS, conferring bacterial virulence. Ser/Thr/Tyr phosphoproteome analysis revealed that phosphorylation of Lon at serine 654 occurs in the citrus host. In rich medium, Lon represses T3SS by degradation of HrpG via recognition of its N terminus. Genetic and biochemical data indicate that phosphorylation at serine 654 deactivates Lon proteolytic activity and attenuates HrpG proteolysis. Substitution of alanine for Lon serine 654 resulted in repression of T3SS gene expression in the citrus host through robust degradation of HrpG and reduced bacterial virulence. Our work reveals a novel mechanism for distinct regulation of bacterial T3SS in different environments. Additionally, our data provide new insight into the role of protein posttranslational modification in the regulation of bacterial virulence.IMPORTANCE Type III secretion systems (T3SS) are an essential virulence trait of many bacterial pathogens because of their indispensable role in the delivery of virulence factors. However, expression of T3SS in the noninfection stage is energy consuming. Here, we established a model to explain the differential regulation of T3SS in host and nonhost environments. When Xanthomonas cells are grown in rich medium, the T3SS regulator HrpG is targeted by Lon protease for proteolysis. The degradation of HrpG leads to downregulated expression of HrpX and the hrp/hrc genes. When Xanthomonas cells infect the host, specific plant stimuli can be perceived and induce Lon phosphorylation at serine 654. Phosphorylation on Lon attenuates its proteolytic activity and protects HrpG from degradation. Consequently, enhanced stability of HrpG activates HrpX and turns on bacterial T3SS in the host. Our work provides a novel molecular mechanism underlying host-dependent activation of bacterial T3SS.
Project description:Huanglongbing (HLB) is the most devastating and widespread citrus disease. All commercial citrus varieties are susceptible to the HLB-associated bacterium, <i>Candidatus</i> Liberibacter asiaticus (<i>C</i>Las), which resides in the phloem. The phloem is part of the plant vascular system and is involved in sugar transport. To investigate the plant response to <i>C</i>Las, we enriched for proteins surrounding the phloem in an HLB susceptible sweet orange variety, Washington navel (<i>Citrus sinensis</i> (L) Osbeck). Quantitative proteomics revealed global changes in the citrus proteome after <i>C</i>Las inoculation. Plant metabolism and translation were suppressed, whereas defense-related proteins such as peroxidases, proteases and protease inhibitors were induced in the vasculature. Transcript accumulation and enzymatic activity of plant peroxidases in CLas infected sweet orange varieties under greenhouse and field conditions were assessed. Although peroxidase transcript accumulation was induced in <i>C</i>Las infected sweet orange varieties, peroxidase enzymatic activity varied. Specific serine proteases were up-regulated in Washington navel in the presence of <i>C</i>Las based on quantitative proteomics. Subsequent activity-based protein profiling revealed increased activity of two serine proteases, and reduced activity of one protease in two <i>C. sinensis</i> sweet orange varieties under greenhouse and field conditions. The observations in the current study highlight global reprogramming of the citrus vascular proteome and differential regulation of enzyme classes in response to <i>C</i>Las infection. These results open an avenue for further investigation of diverse responses to HLB across different environmental conditions and citrus genotypes.
Project description:In Liberibacter asiaticus, PrbP is an important transcriptional accessory protein that regulates gene expression through interactions with the RNA polymerase ?-subunit and a specific sequence on the promoter region. The constitutive expression of prbP observed upon chemical inactivation of PrbP-DNA interactions in vivo indicated that the expression of prbP was not autoregulated at the level of transcription. This observation suggested that a modulatory mechanism via protein-protein interactions may be involved. In silico genome association analysis identified FerR (CLIBASIA_01505), a putative ferredoxin-like protein, as a PrbP-interacting protein. Using a bacterial two-hybrid system and immunoprecipitation assays, interactions between PrbP and FerR were confirmed. In vitro transcription assays were used to show that FerR can increase the activity of PrbP by 16-fold when present in the PrbP-RNA polymerase reaction mixture. The FerR protein-protein interaction surface was predicted by structural modeling and followed by site-directed mutagenesis. Amino acids V20, V23, and C40 were identified as the most important residues in FerR involved in the modulation of PrbP activity in vitro The regulatory mechanism of FerR abundance was examined at the transcription level. In contrast to prbP of L. asiaticus (prbP Las), mRNA levels of ferR of L. asiaticus (ferR Las) are induced by an increase in osmotic pressure. The results of this study revealed that the activity of the transcriptional activator PrbPLas is modulated via interactions with FerRLas The induction of ferR Las expression by osmolarity provides insight into the mechanisms of adjusting gene expression in response to host environmental signals in L. asiaticus IMPORTANCE The rapid spread and aggressive progression of huanglongbing (HLB) in the major citrus-producing areas have raised global recognition of and vigilance to this disease. As a result, the causative agent, Liberibacter asiaticus, has been investigated from various perspectives. However, gene expression regulatory mechanisms that are important for the survival and persistence of this intracellular pathogen remain largely unexplored. PrbP is a transcriptional accessory protein important for L. asiaticus survival in the plant host. In this study, we investigated the interactions between PrbP in L. asiaticus (PrbPLas) and a ferredoxin-like protein (FerR) in L. asiaticus, FerRLas We show that the presence of FerR stabilizes and augments the activity of PrbPLas In addition, we demonstrate that the expression of ferR is induced by increases in osmolarity in Liberibacter crescens Altogether, these results suggest that FerRLas and PrbPLas may play important roles in the regulation of gene expression in response to changing environmental signals during L. asiaticus infection in the citrus host.
Project description:Huanglongbing (HLB) is a destructive citrus disease that is lethal to all commercial citrus plants, making it the most serious citrus disease and one of the most serious plant diseases. Because of the severity of HLB and the paucity of effective control measures, we structured this study to encompass the entirety of the citrus microbiome and the chemistries associated with that microbial community. We describe the spatial niche diversity of bacteria and fungi associated with citrus roots, stems, and leaves using traditional microbial culturing integrated with culture-independent methods. Using the culturable sector of the citrus microbiome, we created a microbial repository using a high-throughput bulk culturing and microbial identification pipeline. We integrated an in vitro agar diffusion inhibition bioassay into our culturing pipeline that queried the repository for antimicrobial activity against Liberibacter crescens, a culturable surrogate for the nonculturable "Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus" bacterium associated with HLB. We identified microbes with robust inhibitory activity against L. crescens that include the fungi Cladosporium cladosporioides and Epicoccum nigrum and bacterial species of Pantoea, Bacillus, and Curtobacterium Purified bioactive natural products with anti-"Ca. Liberibacter asiaticus" activity were identified from the fungus C. cladosporioides Bioassay-guided fractionation of an organic extract of C. cladosporioides yielded the natural products cladosporols A, C, and D as the active agents against L. crescens This work serves as a foundation for unraveling the complex chemistries associated with the citrus microbiome to begin to understand the functional roles of members of the microbiome, with the long-term goal of developing anti-"Ca Liberibacter asiaticus" bioinoculants that thrive in the citrus holosystem.IMPORTANCE Globally, citrus is threatened by huanglongbing (HLB), and the lack of effective control measures is a major concern of farmers, markets, and consumers. There is compelling evidence that plant health is a function of the activities of the plant's associated microbiome. Using Liberibacter crescens, a culturable surrogate for the unculturable HLB-associated bacterium "Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus," we tested the hypothesis that members of the citrus microbiome produce potential anti-"Ca Liberibacter asiaticus" natural products with potential anti-"Ca Liberibacter asiaticus" activity. A subset of isolates obtained from the microbiome inhibited L. crescens growth in an agar diffusion inhibition assay. Further fractionation experiments linked the inhibitory activity of the fungus Cladosporium cladosporioides to the fungus-produced natural products cladosporols A, C, and D, demonstrating dose-dependent antagonism to L. crescens.