The EMBO journal

RPE, a plant gene involved in early developmental steps of nematode feeding cells.

PMID 9843485


Sedentary plant-parasitic nematodes are able to induce the redifferentiation of root cells into multinucleate nematode feeding sites (NFSs). We have isolated by promoter trapping an Arabidopsis thaliana gene that is essential for the early steps of NFS formation induced by the root-knot nematode Meloidogyne incognita. Its pattern of expression is similar to that of key regulators of the cell cycle, but it is not observed with the cyst nematode. Later in NFS development, this gene is induced by both root-knot and cyst nematodes. It encodes a protein similar to the D-ribulose-5-phosphate 3-epimerase (RPE) (EC, a key enzyme in the reductive Calvin cycle and the oxidative pentose phosphate pathway (OPPP). Quantitative RT-PCR showed the accumulation of RPE transcripts in potato, as in Arabidopsis NFS. Homozygous rpe plants have a germination mutant phenotype that can be rescued in dwarf plants on sucrose-supplemented medium. During root development, this gene is expressed in the meristems and initiation sites of lateral roots. These results suggest that the genetic control of NFSs and the first stages of meristem formation share common steps and confirms the previous cytological observations which indicate that root cells undergo metabolic reprogramming when they turn into NFSs.