The effector GpRbp-1 of Globodera pallida targets a nuclear HECT E3 ubiquitin ligase to modulate gene expression in the host

Diaz-Granados, Amalia; Sterken, Mark G.; Overmars, Hein; Ariaans, Roel; Holterman, Martijn; Pokhare, Somnath S.; Yuan, Yulin; Pomp, Rikus; Finkers-Tomczak, Anna; Roosien, Jan; Slootweg, Erik; Elashry, Abdenaser; Grundler, Florian M.W.; Xiao, Fangming; Goverse, Aska; Smant, Geert


Plant-parasitic nematodes secrete effectors that manipulate plant cell morphology and physiology to achieve host invasion and establish permanent feeding sites. Effectors from the highly expanded SPRYSEC (SPRY domain with a signal peptide for secretion) family in potato cyst nematodes have been implicated in activation and suppression of plant immunity, but the mechanisms underlying these activities remain largely unexplored. To study the host mechanisms used by SPRYSEC effectors, we identified plant targets of GpRbp-1 from the potato cyst nematode Globodera pallida. Here, we show that GpRbp-1 interacts in yeast and in planta with a functional potato homologue of the Homology to E6-AP C-Terminus (HECT)-type ubiquitin E3 ligase UPL3, which is located in the nucleus. Potato lines lacking StUPL3 are not available, but the Arabidopsis mutant upl3-5 displaying a reduced UPL3 expression showed a consistently small but not significant decrease in susceptibility to cyst nematodes. We observed a major impact on the root transcriptome by the lower levels of AtUPL3 in the upl3-5 mutant, but surprisingly only in association with infections by cyst nematodes. To our knowledge, this is the first example that a HECT-type ubiquitin E3 ligase is targeted by a pathogen effector and that a member of this class of proteins specifically regulates gene expression under biotic stress conditions. Together, our data suggest that GpRbp-1 targets a specific component of the plant ubiquitination machinery to manipulate the stress response in host cells.