An Aphid-Secreted Salivary Protease Activates Plant Defense in Phloem.

Recent studies have reported that aphids facilitate their colonization of host plants by secreting salivary proteins into host tissues during their initial probing and feeding. Some of these salivary proteins elicit plant defenses, but the molecular and biochemical mechanisms that underlie the activation of phloem-localized resistance remain poorly understood. The aphid Myzus persicae, which is a generalized phloem-sucking pest, encompasses a number of lineages that are associated with and adapted to specific host plant species. The current study found that a cysteine protease Cathepsin B3 (CathB3), and the associated gene CathB3, was upregulated in the salivary glands and saliva of aphids from a non-tobacco-adapted (NTA) aphid lineage, when compared to those of a tobacco-adapted lineage. Furthermore, the knockdown of CathB3 improved the performance of NTA lineages on tobacco, and the propeptide domain of CathB3 was found to bind to tobacco cytoplasmic kinase ENHANCED DISEASE RESISTANCE 1-like (EDR1-like), which triggers the accumulation of reactive oxygen species in tobacco phloem, thereby suppressing both phloem feeding and colonization by NTA lineages. These findings reveal a novel function for a cathepsin-type protease in aphid saliva that elicits effective host plant defenses and warranted the theory of host specialization for generalist aphids.