A plasma membrane localized Cu-only superoxide dismutase boosts stripe rust fungus infection by scavenging host-derived ROS
Infection of pathogens in plants induces production and accumulation of reactive oxygen species (ROS). ROS are not only involved in plant defense responses, but directly restrict or kill pathogens. To counteract this attack, it is necessary for pathogens to remove host-produced ROS. However, the mechanisms protecting pathogens against host-derived oxidative stress are little known. In this study, a superoxide dismutase (SOD) gene, PsSOD2, was cloned from Puccinia striiformis f. sp. tritici (Pst). Quantitative reverse transcription PCR (qRT-PCR) analysis indicated that PsSOD2 is an in-planta induced gene active in the early stage of Pst infection. Prokaryotic expression and biochemical characterization revealed that PsSOD2 encoded a Cu-only SOD. The predicted signal peptide for protein secretion was functional in an invertase-mutated yeast strain. Transient expression in Nicotiana benthamiana suggested that PsSOD2 is localized in plasma membrane and dependent on glycophosphatidyl inositol (GPI) anchor at the C terminus. Furthermore, Size exclusion chromatography and bimolecular fluorescence complementation validated dimerization of PsSOD2. Overexpression of PsSOD2 in N. benthamiana significantly decreased ROS production triggered by flg22. Knockdown of PsSOD2 using a host-induced gene silencing (HIGS) system reduced the virulence of Pst, which was correlated to ROS accumulation in HIGS plants. These results suggest that PsSOD2 is a pivotal virulence factor that is localized in hyphal plasma membrane to promote Pst infection by scavenging host-derived ROS.