Bacterial pathogens deliver water- and solute-permeable channels to plant cells

Monday, 18 September 2023 19:58:31

Grahame Jackson posted a new submission ‘Bacterial pathogens deliver water- and solute-permeable channels to plant cells’


Bacterial pathogens deliver water- and solute-permeable channels to plant cells


Nature (2023)Cite this article


Many animal- and plant-pathogenic bacteria use a type III secretion system to deliver effector proteins into host cells1,2. Elucidation of how these effector proteins function in host cells is critical for understanding infectious diseases in animals and plants3,4,5. The widely conserved AvrE-family effectors, including DspE in Erwinia amylovora and AvrE in Pseudomonas syringae, have a central role in the pathogenesis of diverse phytopathogenic bacteria6. These conserved effectors are involved in the induction of ‘water soaking’ and host cell death that are conducive to bacterial multiplication in infected tissues. However, the exact biochemical functions of AvrE-family effectors have been recalcitrant to mechanistic understanding for three decades. Here we show that AvrE-family effectors fold into a β-barrel structure that resembles bacterial porins. Expression of AvrE and DspE in Xenopus oocytes results in inward and outward currents, permeability to water and osmolarity-dependent oocyte swelling and bursting. Liposome reconstitution confirmed that the DspE channel alone is sufficient to allow the passage of small molecules such as fluorescein dye. Targeted screening of chemical blockers based on the predicted pore size (15–20 Å) of the DspE channel identified polyamidoamine dendrimers as inhibitors of the DspE/AvrE channels. Notably, polyamidoamines broadly inhibit AvrE and DspE virulence activities in Xenopus oocytes and during E. amylovora and P. syringae infections. Thus, we have unravelled the biochemical function of a centrally important family of bacterial effectors with broad conceptual and practical implications in the study of bacterial pathogenesis.

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