Preprint: Colletotrichum higginsianum effectors exhibit cell-to-cell hypermobility in plant tissues and modulate intercellular connectivity amongst a variety of cellular processes (2021)
Ohtsu M*, Jennings J*, Johnston MG, Liu X, Hughes N, Stark K, Morris R, de Keijzer J, Faulkner C
*These authors contributed equally to this work.
Multicellular organisms exchange information and resources between cells to co-ordinate growth and responses. In plants, plasmodesmata establish cytoplasmic continuity between cells to allow for communication and resource exchange across the cell wall. Some plant pathogens use plasmodesmata as a pathway for both molecular and physical invasion. However, the benefits of molecular invasion (cell-to-cell movement of pathogen effectors) are poorly understood. To begin to investigate this and identify which effectors are cell-to-cell mobile, we performed a live imaging-based screen and identified 15 cell-to-cell mobile effectors of the fungal pathogen Colletotrichum higginsianum. Of these, 6 are hypermobile, showing cell-to-cell mobility greater than expected for a protein of its size. We further identified 3 effectors that can indirectly modify plasmodesmal aperture. Transcriptional profiling of plants expressing hypermobile effectors implicate them in a variety of processes including senescence, glucosinolate production, cell wall integrity, growth and iron metabolism. However, not all effectors had an independent effect on virulence. This suggests a wide range of benefits to infection gained by the mobility of C. higginsianum effectors that likely interact in a complex way during infection.