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Open Access Research article

Characterization of Vitis vinifera NPR1 homologs involved in the regulation of Pathogenesis-Related gene expression

Gaëlle Le Henanff1, Thierry Heitz2, Pere Mestre3, Jerôme Mutterer2, Bernard Walter1 and Julie Chong1*

Author Affiliations

1 Laboratoire Vigne, Biotechnologies et Environnement (LVBE, EA3991), Université de Haute Alsace, 33 rue de Herrlisheim, 68000 Colmar, France

2 Département Réseaux Métaboliques chez les Végétaux, IBMP du CNRS (UPR2357), 12 rue du général Zimmer, 67000 Strasbourg, France

3 Laboratoire de Génétique et Amélioration de la Vigne, INRA et Université de Strasbourg (UMR1131), 28 rue de Herrlisheim, 68000 Colmar, France

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BMC Plant Biology 2009, 9:54  doi:10.1186/1471-2229-9-54

Published: 11 May 2009

Abstract

Background

Grapevine protection against diseases needs alternative strategies to the use of phytochemicals, implying a thorough knowledge of innate defense mechanisms. However, signalling pathways and regulatory elements leading to induction of defense responses have yet to be characterized in this species. In order to study defense response signalling to pathogens in Vitis vinifera, we took advantage of its recently completed genome sequence to characterize two putative orthologs of NPR1, a key player in salicylic acid (SA)-mediated resistance to biotrophic pathogens in Arabidopsis thaliana.

Results

Two cDNAs named VvNPR1.1 and VvNPR1.2 were isolated from Vitis vinifera cv Chardonnay, encoding proteins showing 55% and 40% identity to Arabidopsis NPR1 respectively. Constitutive expression of VvNPR1.1 and VvNPR1.2 monitored in leaves of V. vinifera cv Chardonnay was found to be enhanced by treatment with benzothiadiazole, a SA analog. In contrast, VvNPR1.1 and VvNPR1.2 transcript levels were not affected during infection of resistant Vitis riparia or susceptible V. vinifera with Plasmopara viticola, the causal agent of downy mildew, suggesting regulation of VvNPR1 activity at the protein level. VvNPR1.1-GFP and VvNPR1.2-GFP fusion proteins were transiently expressed by agroinfiltration in Nicotiana benthamiana leaves, where they localized predominantly to the nucleus. In this system, VvNPR1.1 and VvNPR1.2 expression was sufficient to trigger the accumulation of acidic SA-dependent Pathogenesis-Related proteins PR1 and PR2, but not of basic chitinases (PR3) in the absence of pathogen infection. Interestingly, when VvNPR1.1 or AtNPR1 were transiently overexpressed in Vitis vinifera leaves, the induction of grapevine PR1 was significantly enhanced in response to P. viticola.

Conclusion

In conclusion, our data identified grapevine homologs of NPR1, and their functional analysis showed that VvNPR1.1 and VvNPR1.2 likely control the expression of SA-dependent defense genes. Overexpression of VvNPR1 has thus the potential to enhance grapevine defensive capabilities upon fungal infection. As a consequence, manipulating VvNPR1 and other signalling elements could open ways to strengthen disease resistance mechanisms in this crop species.