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Journal of Integrative Agriculture  2020, Vol. 19 Issue (8): 2044-2055    DOI: 10.1016/S2095-3119(19)62874-1
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The M43 domain-containing metalloprotease RcMEP1 in Rhizoctonia cerealis is a pathogenicity factor during the fungus infection to wheat
PAN Li-jun1, 2*, LU Lin2*, LIU Yu-ping3*, WEN Sheng-xian1, ZHANG Zeng-yan2
College of Agriculture, Hunan Agricultural University, Changsha 410128, P.R.China
2 National Key Facility for Crop Gene Resources and Genetic Improvement, Institute of Crop Sciences, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Beijing 10080, P.R.China
3 Institute for Cereal and Oil Crops, Hebei Academy of Agriculture and Forestry Sciences, Shijiazhuang 050035, P.R.China
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Wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) is an important staple crop for global human.  The necrotrophic fungus Rhizoctonia cerealis is the causal pathogen of sharp eyespot, a devastating disease of wheat.  Herein, we identified RcMEP1, a zinc metalloprotease-encoding gene from R. cerealis genomic sequences, and characterized its pathogenesis function.  RcMEP1 expressed at markedly-high levels during R. cerealis infection process to wheat.  The predicted protein RcMEP1 comprises of 287 amino acid residues and contains a signal peptide and a M43 metalloprotease domain harboring the active site motif (HEVGHWLGLYH).  The assays of Agrobacterium tumefaciens-mediated transient expression in Nicotiana benthamiana leaves indicated that RcMEP1 is an apoplastic elicitor of cell death, and that the predicted signal peptide functions and is required for secretion and cell death-induction.  The purified RcMEP1 protein and its M43 domain peptide were individually able to induce plant cell death and H2O2 accumulation, and to inhibit expression of host chitinases when infiltrated into wheat and N. benthamiana leaves, while the M43 domain-deleting peptide and negative control lacked the capacity.  Moreover, compared with the control pretreatment, the purified RcMEP1 protein or its M43-domain peptide resulted in enhanced pathogenesis in the inoculated wheat, whereas the M43 domain-deleting peptide failed.  These results suggest that RcMEP1 acted as an important pathogenicity factor during R. cerealis infection to wheat and that its signal peptide and M43 domain are required for the secretion and pathogenesis of RcMEP1.  This study provides insights into pathogenesis role of M43 domain-containing metalloproteases during R. cerealis infection to wheat.
Keywords:  cell death        metalloprotease        Rhizoctonia cerealis        pathogenicity        wheat  
Received: 12 July 2019   Accepted: 21 June 2020
Fund: This study was funded by the Key Sci-Tech Program of China (2016ZX08002-001-004).
Corresponding Authors:  Correspondence ZHANG Zeng-yan, Tel: +86-10-82108781, Fax: +86-10-82105819, E-mail:; WEN Sheng-xian, E-mail:    
About author:  Received 12 July, 2019 Accepted 5 December, 2019 PAN Li-jun, E-mail:; * These authors contributed equally to this study.

Cite this article: 

PAN Li-jun, LU Lin, LIU Yu-ping, WEN Sheng-xian, ZHANG Zeng-yan. 2020. The M43 domain-containing metalloprotease RcMEP1 in Rhizoctonia cerealis is a pathogenicity factor during the fungus infection to wheat. Journal of Integrative Agriculture, 19(8): 2044-2055.

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