Pseudomonas syringae type III effector HopAF1 suppresses plant immunity by targeting methionine recycling to block ethylene induction.

HopAF1 is a type III effector protein of unknown function encoded in the genomes of several strains of Pseudomonas syringae and other plant pathogens. Structural modeling predicted that HopAF1 is closely related to deamidase proteins. Deamidation is the irreversible substitution of an amide group with a carboxylate group. Several bacterial virulence factors are deamidases that manipulate the activity of specific host protein substrates. We identified Arabidopsis methylthioadenosine nucleosidase proteins MTN1 and MTN2 as putative targets of HopAF1 deamidation. MTNs are enzymes in the Yang cycle, which is essential for the high levels of ethylene biosynthesis in Arabidopsis We hypothesized that HopAF1 inhibits the host defense response by manipulating MTN activity and consequently ethylene levels. We determined that bacterially delivered HopAF1 inhibits ethylene biosynthesis induced by pathogen-associated molecular patterns and that Arabidopsis mtn1 mtn2 mutant plants phenocopy the effect of HopAF1. Furthermore, we identified two conserved asparagines in MTN1 and MTN2 from Arabidopsis that confer loss of function phenotypes when deamidated via site-specific mutation. These residues are potential targets of HopAF1 deamidation. HopAF1-mediated manipulation of Yang cycle MTN proteins is likely an evolutionarily conserved mechanism whereby HopAF1 orthologs from multiple plant pathogens contribute to disease in a large variety of plant hosts.