‘Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus’ (CLas) is the pathogenic bacterium that causes the disease Huanglongbing (HLB) in citrus and some model plants, such as Nicotiana benthamiana. After infection, CLas releases a set of effectors to modulate host responses. One of these critical effectors is Sec-delivered effector 1 (SDE1), which induces chlorosis and cell death in N. benthamiana. In this study, we revealed the DEAD-box RNA helicase (DDX3) interacts with SDE1. Gene silencing study revealed that knockdown of the NbDDX3 gene triggers leaf chlorosis, mimicking the primary symptom of CLas infection in N. benthamiana. The interactions between SDE1 and NbDDX3 were localized in the cell membrane. Overexpression of SDE1 resulted in suppression of NbDDX3 gene expression in N. benthamiana, which suggests a critical role of SDE1 in modulating NbDDX3 expression. Furthermore, we verified the interaction of SDE1 with citrus DDX3 (CsDDX3), and demonstrated that the expression of the CsDDX3 gene was significantly reduced in HLB-affected yellowing and mottled leaves of citrus. Thus, we provide molecular evidence that the downregulation of the host DDX3 gene is a crucial mechanism of leaf chlorosis in HLB-affected plants. The identification of CsDDX3 as a critical target of SDE1 and its association with HLB symptom development indicates that the DDX3 gene is an important target for gene editing, to interrupt the interaction between DDX3 and SDE1, and therefore interfere host susceptibility.
Background: 'Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus' (Las) is the pathogenic bacterium that causes Huanglongbing in citrus plants, as well as in several types of experimental plants. Las releases a set of effectors to modulate host responses. One of these critical effectors is Sec-delivered effector 1 (SDE1), which induces chlorosis in Nicotiana benthamiana. Results: Four SDE1-interacting proteins were identified from N. benthamiana, including DEAD-box RNA helicase DDX3, 26S proteasome non-ATPase regulatory subunit PSMD14, an ARM repeat protein, and a hypothetical protein. Gene silencing revealed that knockdown of the NbDDX3 gene led to chlorosis in N. benthamiana leaves. Fluorescent signal detection revealed that SDE1 was localized to the cell membrane, cytoplasm, and nucleus. Simultaneously, NbDD3 was expressed in cytoplasmic vesicles, as well as in the cell membrane. The interactions between SDE1 and NbDDX3 were shown to be localized on cell membrane using co-localization and bimolecular fluorescence complementation analysis. Moreover, the transcription of NbDDX3 gene was substantially suppressed in N. benthamiana plants that expressed SDE1. Conclusion: Las effector SDE1 interacts with NbDDX3 at the cell membrane. Most importantly, the transient expression of SDE1 exerts a suppression effect on the transcription of NbDDX3 gene. The silencing of NbDDX3 leads to leaf chlorosis in N. benthamiana. This provided evidence to understand the molecular events in association with chlorosis induced by SDE1.