An effector-targeted protease contributes to defense against Phytophthora infestans and is under diversifying selection in natural hosts.
Kaschani F., Shabab M., Bozkurt T., Shindo T., Schornack S., Gu C., Ilyas M., Win J., Kamoun S., van der Hoorn RA.
Since the leaf apoplast is a primary habitat for many plant pathogens, apoplastic proteins are potent, ancient targets for apoplastic effectors secreted by plant pathogens. So far, however, only a few apoplastic effector targets have been identified and characterized. Here, we discovered that the papain-like cysteine protease C14 is a new common target of EPIC1 and EPIC2B, two apoplastic, cystatin-like proteins secreted by the potato (Solanum tuberosum) late blight pathogen Phytophthora infestans. C14 is a secreted protease of tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) and potato typified by a carboxyl-terminal granulin domain. The EPIC-C14 interaction occurs at a wide pH range and is stronger than the previously described interactions of EPICs with tomato defense proteases PIP1 and RCR3. The selectivity of the EPICs is also different when compared with the AVR2 effector of the fungal tomato pathogen Cladosporium fulvum, which targets PIP1 and RCR3, and only at apoplastic pH. Importantly, silencing of C14 increased susceptibility to P. infestans, demonstrating that this protease plays a role in pathogen defense. Although C14 is under conservative selection in tomato, it is under diversifying selection in wild potato species (Solanum demissum, Solanum verrucosum, and Solanum stoliniferum) that are the natural hosts of P. infestans. These data reveal a novel effector target in the apoplast that contributes to immunity and is under diversifying selection, but only in the natural host of the pathogen.