Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus’ Expands and Scavenges the Nutritional Choline Pool in Its Host Grapefruit (Citrus × paradisi) Leaves

Jain et al. (2023). PhytoFrontiers™ 3 (4)
Names (1)
Ca. Liberibacter asiaticus
Earth-Surface Processes General Medicine
Phosphatidylcholine (PtdCho) is an unusual membrane phospholipid present in some endosymbiotic and intracellular pathogenic prokaryotes. ‘ Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus’ (CLas) is a phloem-limited, uncultured, fastidious α-Proteobacterium associated with the devastating citrus “greening” disease (huanglongbing). Phylogenetically related but nonpathogenic Liberibacter crescens (Lcr) was used as a culturable surrogate to examine PtdCho biosynthesis in pathogenic CLas. Genes encoding key enzymes for two alternative PtdCho biosynthetic routes are present in the Lcr genome: the one-step cytidine diphosphate (CDP)-choline ( pcs-encoding phosphatidylcholine synthase) and the three-step methyl-transferase pathway ( pmt-encoding phospholipid N-methyltransferase). However, only the CDP-choline pathway genes for incorporating exogenous Cho were identified in the CLas genome. Exogenous Cho enhanced growth and alleviated osmotic stress in wild-type Lcr and in the pmt insertion mutant strains when cultured in a sugar-rich medium. Quantitative RT-PCR analyses confirmed active uptake and condensation of nutritional Cho into PtdCho by CLas in both its plant host and psyllid vector. CLas-infected grapefruit leaves showed transcriptional activation of Cho biosynthesis genes and 2.8-fold higher levels of Cho. In plant cells, the compatible osmolyte glycine-betaine (GlyBet) is also derived from Cho. Expression of GlyBet biosynthesis genes and the GlyBet content were similar in both CLas-infected and healthy leaf tissue. The data presented here suggest that CLas likely exploits the Cho biosynthetic pathway in citrus hosts to expand the nutritional Cho pool. [Formula: see text] Copyright © 2023 The Author(s). This is an open access article distributed under the CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 International license .
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