Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

Phytophthora effector targets a novel component of small RNA pathway in plants to promote infection.

PMID 25902521


A broad range of parasites rely on the functions of effector proteins to subvert host immune response and facilitate disease development. The notorious Phytophthora pathogens evolved effectors with RNA silencing suppression activity to promote infection in plant hosts. Here we report that the Phytophthora Suppressor of RNA Silencing 1 (PSR1) can bind to an evolutionarily conserved nuclear protein containing the aspartate-glutamate-alanine-histidine-box RNA helicase domain in plants. This protein, designated PSR1-Interacting Protein 1 (PINP1), regulates the accumulation of both microRNAs and endogenous small interfering RNAs in Arabidopsis. A null mutation of PINP1 causes embryonic lethality, and silencing of PINP1 leads to developmental defects and hypersusceptibility to Phytophthora infection. These phenotypes are reminiscent of transgenic plants expressing PSR1, supporting PINP1 as a direct virulence target of PSR1. We further demonstrate that the localization of the Dicer-like 1 protein complex is impaired in the nucleus of PINP1-silenced or PSR1-expressing cells, indicating that PINP1 may facilitate small RNA processing by affecting the assembly of dicing complexes. A similar function of PINP1 homologous genes in development and immunity was also observed in Nicotiana benthamiana. These findings highlight PINP1 as a previously unidentified component of RNA silencing that regulates distinct classes of small RNAs in plants. Importantly, Phytophthora has evolved effectors to target PINP1 in order to promote infection.