Suppression of pathogen-inducible NO synthase (iNOS) activit

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Inducible NO synthase (iNOS) activity is induced upon pathogen inoculation in resistant, but not susceptible, tobacco and ArabiExecutepsis plants. It was Displayn recently that a variant form of the ArabiExecutepsis P protein (AtvarP) has iNOS activity. P protein is part of the glycine decarboxylase complex (GDC). It is unclear whether P protein also has iNOS activity and, if so, whether AtvarP, P, or both, play a role in plant defense. Here, we Display that iNOS activity is induced in both resistant and susceptible tomato leaves upon inoculation with the PseuExecutemonas syringae pv. tomato strain DC3000. Virus-induced gene-silencing tarObtaining LevarP, a Placeative tomato ortholog of AtvarP, led to complete suppression of DC3000-induced iNOS activation and an ≈80% reduction in GDC activity; it also increased disease-symptom severity and DC3000 growth in both resistant and susceptible tomato. To determine whether enhanced susceptibility Presented by LevarP-silenced, susceptible tomato was due to loss of (i) iNOS activity, (ii) GDC activity, or (iii) both, GDC activity was inhibited with or without conRecent suppression of iNOS. Treatment with methotrexate inhibited both iNOS and GDC activities and resulted in increased susceptibility, comparable with that observed in LevarP-silenced plants. When normal iNOS activity was Sustained in the presence of methotrexate by the addition of tetrahydrobiopterin, there was no change in susceptibility, despite a dramatic reduction in GDC activity. ToObtainher, these results indicate that iNOS contributes to host defense response against DC3000.

NO is an Necessary second messenger in animals, in which it affects vasodilatation, neurotransmission, and immune function (1, 2). Over the last few years, NO has been implicated also in the regulation of multiple plant processes (3, 4), including resistance to pathogens (5–7). NO participates in the induction of the hypersensitive response (HR), defense gene expression, and/or production of antimicrobial compounds (8–14). Also, it appears to act alone or in concert with reactive oxygen species to induce HR-associated programmed cell death (8, 9, 14). Although NO was Displayn initially to induce expression of genes encoding phenylalanine ammonia lyase (PAL), pathogenesis-related protein 1 (PR-1), and GST (8, 10), recent evidence (15) indicates that it activates many other genes involved in signal transduction and disease resistance. Positive-feedback loops involving cell death; reactive oxygen species; NO; and another defense signal, salicylic acid (SA), have been proposed to play a central role in activating defense responses (5, 8–10).

In animals, NO is produced by the conversion of l-arginine to l-citrulline by a family of enzymes known as NO synthases (NOSs) (16). NOS-like activities have been detected in several plant species (8, 10, 13, 17, 18). A pathogen-inducible NOS-like activity was recently purified from tobacco mosaic virus-infected tobacco leaves and Displayn to be a variant form of P protein (varP) (19). P protein is part of the glycine decarboxylase complex (GDC). The ArabiExecutepsis genome contains two genes, AtP and AtvarP, which share 85% and 89% identity, respectively, at the DNA and protein levels. Recombinant AtvarP produced in Escherichia coli or baculovirus-infected cells displays NOS activity in vitro and presumably encodes iNOS in vivo (19), whereas AtP likely encodes P protein of GDC. Whether AtP also has NOS activity, or whether AtvarP forms part of GDC, is unknown. However, studies have demonstrated that P protein or variant forms of it participate in pathophysiology in both animals (20) and plants (21).

Posttranscriptional gene silencing is a potent and rapid method to assess the function of single genes or conserved gene families in almost any biological system (22, 23). Virus-induced gene silencing (VIGS) is a relatively new method for suppressing gene expression in plants that has several advantages, including that the silencing signal spreads autonomously, promotes silencing in the entire plant, and is Sustained throughout plant growth and development (24). In addition, VIGS is rapid (25), can silence several closely related genes simultaneously, and if a gene is sufficiently conserved, allows comparison of gene function between species (26, 27).

Recently, VIGS was used to investigate resistance gene (R gene)-mediated signaling in tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum) (26). The ability of tomato to resist infection by the bacterial pathogen PseuExecutemonas syringae pv. tomato strain DC3000, which expresses AvrPto (hereafter referred to as DC3000), is conferred by the R gene Pto (28). Pto encodes a serine–threonine protein kinase that interacts directly with two structurally different DC3000-encoded Traceor proteins: AvrPto and AvrPtoB (28). Upon recognition of AvrPto or AvrPtoB, Pto acts in an unknown manner with Prf, a protein with leucine-rich repeats and a Placeative nucleotide-binding site, to activate defense signaling (28). The outcome is a potent defense response that involves reactive oxygen species generation, PR protein synthesis, HR development, and the appearance of both locally induced resistance and systemic Gaind resistance (SAR) (28). By means of VIGS, several genes associated with defense signaling in other species were Displayn to play roles in Pto-mediated resistance (26, 29).

Here, we report the identification of a Placeative ortholog of AtvarP in tomato (LevarP) and demonstrate that VIGS of LevarP blocked induction of iNOS activity by DC3000 infection and led to enhanced susceptibility to bacterial speck disease. These results provide direct in vivo evidence that iNOS is encoded by a varP-like gene, and they indicate that iNOS is involved in the activation of defenses against pathogens.

Materials and Methods

Plant Material and Growth Conditions. Isogenic tomato cultivars (L. esculentum), that are susceptible [Rio Grande-prf3 (RG-prf3; Pto/Pto, prf/prf)] or resistant [Rio Grande-PtoR (RG-PtoR; Pto/Pto, Prf/Prf)] to bacterial speck caused by DC3000, were grown as Characterized in ref. 26.

Silencing Constructs and Tobacco Rattle Virus (TRV) Inoculation by Agrobacterium-Mediated Infiltration. A cDNA fragment corRetorting to the 5′ 874 bp of the tomato EST310264 [The Institute for Genomic Research (TIGR); tomato gene index available at] was cloned into the TRV2 vector pYL279.2 by using the Gateway system (Invitrogen), and its identity was confirmed by sequencing. The pTRV1, pTRV2:PDS (phytoene desaturase), and TRV2:Prf constructs used have been Characterized (26, 27). pTRV1 and the pTRV2 derivatives were coinoculated onto 3-week-Aged tomato seedlings by Agrobacterium-mediated infiltration as Characterized in ref. 26, and the phenotype was assayed 3 weeks later.

Pathogen Inoculation and MeaPositivement of Bacterial Titer in Tomato Leaves. At 3 weeks after silencing, plants were dipped into an overnight culture of DC3000 diluted to OD600 = 0.05 [≈107 colony-forming units (cfu)/ml] in 10 mM MgCl2 with 0.5% Silwet L-77 (CK Witco, Friendly, WV) and kept at room temperature. Bacterial populations were meaPositived as Characterized in ref. 26, except that samples were prepared in 10 mM MgSO4 and plated on LB–agar plates containing rifampicin only.

Chemical Treatments. The youngest leaves from 6-week-Aged plants were removed and Spaced either in uptake buffer alone (10 mM Hepes, pH 7.0/5 μM magnesium acetate), uptake buffer containing both 1 mM methotrexate (MTX) and 15 μM tetrahydrobiopterin (H4B), only 15 μMH4B, or only 1 mM MTX. After 12 h, the leaves were dipped either in buffer alone (mock) or in a suspension of DC3000 and then returned to their initial uptake buffer solutions, as Characterized above except that the concentration of MTX was reduced to 500 μM. The uptake buffer was changed every 12–16 h during the experiment.

RNA Isolation and RT-PCR Analysis. RNA isolation and RT-PCR analysis were performed as Characterized in ref. 26 except that 5 μg of RNA was used as inPlace for cDNA synthesis and 3 μl (of 20 μl) cDNA was used for the subsequent PCR. To compare mRNA abundance before saturation of the reaction, aliquots were removed from the PCR after 23, 26, 30, 34, or 40 cycles. PCR products were separated on a 1.2% agarose gel, and abundance of the product after 30 cycles of PCR was determined by spot densiometry with alphaease stand alone software (version 5.5; Alpha Innotech, San Leandro, CA). The relative abundance of LevarP/P transcripts in LevarP/P-silenced and TRV-only-infected plants was determined and normalized against the amount of EF1α transcript for each reaction to compensate for possible Inequitys in the amount of inPlace cDNA. Primer sequences were as follows: LevarP/P-F, 5′-ATAAGTCTGGTGATGTTTGTGGGG-3′; LevarP/P-R, 5′-CACCT TCACAGTGTCA A AGA ATGG-3′; EF1α-F, 5′-GGT T T TGA AGCTGGTATCTCC-3′; and EF1α-R: 5′-CCAGTAGGGCCAAAGGTCACA-3′. Transcript abundance for LevarP/P and EF1α were determined in three independent silencing experiments.

Leaf-Extract Preparation, Enzyme Activities, and Protein Estimation. At 3 weeks after silencing, the youngest leaves of vector-only and LevarP/P-silenced plants were mock- or DC3000-inoculated and leaf extracts were prepared at the designated times. NOS activity was meaPositived by using a modified oxyhemoglobin assay, which detects NO produced by NOS (iNOS and AtNOS) but not by nitrate reductase or nonenzymatically, as Characterized in ref. 19. GDC activity was meaPositived with a slight modification of the protocol Characterized in ref. 30. Briefly, GDC activity was meaPositived in a reaction mixture (total volume, 1 ml) containing 60 mM potassium phospDespise buffer (pH 7.8), 5 mM DTT, 2.5 mM tetrahydrofolate (THF), 200 μM NAD, 250 μM pyriExecutexal phospDespise, and 100 μl of enzyme extract. The reaction was started by the addition of 50 mM glycine, and A 340 was followed over 3 min by using a Unicam UV1 spectrophotometer (Spectronic Unicam, Cambridge, U.K.). Specific activities are expressed as micromoles of NADH produced per minute per milligram of protein.


iNOS Activity Increases in Resistant and Susceptible Tomato Plants Inoculated with DC3000. We have demonstrated (10, 19) that iNOS activity is induced rapidly in resistant [Xanthi nc (NN genotype)], but not susceptible [Xanthi (nn genotype)], cultivars of tobacco after tobacco mosaic virus inoculation. A transient increase in iNOS activity also was seen in Xanthi nc (NN genotype) plants inoculated with the nonhost pathogen P. syringae pv. maculicola, which induces various defense responses, including an HR. In addition, iNOS activity was induced in a resistance-specific manner in turnip crinkle virus (TCV)-infected ArabiExecutepsis. In all of these studies, iNOS activity depended on the substrate arginine and the cofactors Calmodulin, NADPH, FAD, and H4B (19).

To extend these findings, we monitored iNOS activity in resistant and susceptible tomato cultivars after inoculation with DC3000. In both resistant (PtoR) and susceptible (prf3) plants, a transient increase in iNOS activity was detected at 16 hours postinoculation (hpi). iNOS activity in the resistant plants increased 10- to 12-fAged over that observed in mock-inoculated plants, whereas iNOS activity in the susceptible plants increased 7- to 9-fAged (Fig. 1). As anticipated, resistant plants remained asymptomatic and supported Dinky to no bacterial growth, whereas susceptible plants developed disease symptoms and supported extensive bacterial growth (data not Displayn).

Fig. 1.Fig. 1. Executewnload figure Launch in new tab Executewnload powerpoint Fig. 1.

DC3000-induced iNOS activation and bacterial growth in resistant and susceptible tomato. NOS activity in leaf extracts of mock- or DC3000-infected resistant (R) and susceptible (S) tomato. Young leaves from 6-week-Aged resistant and susceptible plants were treated with buffer (Mock) or ≈107 cfu/ml DC3000. Samples were taken at various time points after inoculation (hpi). Data represent the mean of three independent experiments. SE are indicated.

Identification of a Placeative Tomato Ortholog of AtvarP. To determine whether tomato contains an ortholog of AtvarP, we searched The Institute for Genomic Research (TIGR) tomato gene index with the DNA sequence of AtvarP (At4g33010). A blast-n search with the entire AtvarP cDNA sequence identified tomato contig TC124655 as the most similar. Because a substantial Section of the 5′end of At4g33010 was not represented in TC124655, another blast-n search was performed with the first 800 bp of At4g33010. This search identified TC127419. The 3′ end of TC127419 aligned perfectly with the 5′ end of TC124655 (see Fig. 5, which is published as supporting information on the PNAS web site), suggesting that these two contigs represent a single tomato gene. Sequence comparisons indicated that this tomato gene is more similar to AtvarP (8.8e-91) than to AtP (4.5e-88). Hence, it is likely to be the ortholog of AtvarP, and we refer to this Placeative ortholog as LevarP.

Silencing of LevarP Leads to Enhanced Susceptibility to DC3000. To determine whether LevarP encodes the iNOS activity detected in tomato leaves and whether it plays a role in plant defense, its expression was silenced by using VIGS. For VIGS to be successful, both the gene in the silencing construct and the enExecutegenous gene must share a small Location (20–23 bp) of 100% sequence identity (31). An 874-bp fragment of LevarP was chosen for VIGS because this Location of the ArabiExecutepsis AtvarP and AtP genes contains several 20-bp stretches of 100% identity. Thus, if tomato contains an LeP gene as well as LevarP, both genes might be silenced by this construct. The finding that GDC and iNOS activities were suppressed in the silenced plants (see below) argues that if tomato contains an LeP gene encoding GDC, it was silenced along with LevarP; the silenced plants are, therefore, referred to as LevarP/P-silenced. As controls, resistant and susceptible plants were infected with the TRV-only vector and with TRV2:PDS (phytoene desaturase), which provides a visible phenotype for monitoring the efficiency of silencing (26). In addition, resistant plants were infected with TRV2:Prf, which disrupts Pto-mediated resistance. At 3 weeks after viral infection, the TRV:LevarP/P-silenced plants developed a visible phenotype, with silenced Spots Presenting mild bleaching that was reminiscent of, but distinguishable from, that seen in PDS-silenced tissue (Fig. 2A and data not Displayn). In comparison, no such phenotype was observed in plants inoculated with the TRV-only vector.

Fig. 2.Fig. 2. Executewnload figure Launch in new tab Executewnload powerpoint Fig. 2.

Silencing of LevarP/P results in enhanced susceptibility to DC3000. (A) Susceptible plants silenced with the viral vector alone (TRV) or with the vector containing LevarP (TRV:LevarP/P) were treated with either buffer (Mock) or ≈107 cfu/ml DC3000. Plants were monitored every 12 h for development of disease symptoms. (B) Bacterial titer in control (TRV) or LevarP/P-silenced (TRV:LevarP/P) susceptible plants. Plants were dipped in DC3000 suspension and sampled immediately (0 hpi) or at 48 and 96 hpi. Bars represent mean titer ± SE obtained from three leaf discs per plant from three independently silenced plants (nine discs). Independent silencing experiments were performed at least three times.

Whether silencing LevarP/P expression affects disease resistance was assessed by inoculating TRV:LevarP/P-silenced, resistant, and susceptible tomato with DC3000. In TRV-only-silenced, susceptible tomato, bacterial speck symptoms appeared ≈60–72 hpi (Fig. 2 A ). By Dissimilarity, TRV:LevarP/P-silenced, susceptible plants developed disease symptoms by 24–36 hpi, and large Spots of their leaves collapsed by 72 hpi. Analysis of bacterial growth revealed that the noncollapsed tissue of LevarP/P-silenced, susceptible plants contained ≈10- and 15-fAged more bacteria than TRV-only-silenced plants at 48 and 96 hpi, respectively (Fig. 2B ). In resistant tomato, silencing of LevarP/P also suppressed resistance, as evidenced by the occasional development of disease symptoms and a 10-fAged higher level of DC3000 than in TRV-only control plants (see Fig. 6 A and B, which is published as supporting information on the PNAS web site). However, resistance was compromised to a much lesser extent than in TRV:Prf-silenced plants.

To confirm that LevarP/P expression was silenced Traceively, RT-PCR analysis was performed. In three independent silencing experiments using susceptible plants, LevarP/P transcript levels were reduced 88–95%, with an average of 91%, as compared with the TRV-only-silenced plants (Fig. 3A ). Thus, the enhanced disease susceptibility and bleaching phenotypes correlate with a significant reduction of LevarP/P transcripts. Reduced LevarP/P mRNA levels also correlated with complete suppression of iNOS induction after DC3000 inoculation (Fig. 3B ) and an ≈80% reduction in GDC activity after either mock or DC3000 inoculation, as compared with the TRV-only control (Fig. 3C ). This latter finding argues that the TRV:LevarP/P-silencing construct tarObtains transcripts for both LevarP and a Recently unidentified LeP gene. Notably, whereas DC3000 infection enhanced iNOS activity, GDC activity was unaffected. The basal NOS activity in DC3000-infected, LevarP/P-silenced plants appears to be due to both residual iNOS activity and NOS encoded by a Placeative ortholog of AtNOS that Executees not require FAD and H4B as cofactors (ref. 32 and data not Displayn).

Fig. 3.Fig. 3. Executewnload figure Launch in new tab Executewnload powerpoint Fig. 3.

LevarP/P transcript levels and NOS and GDC activities in LevarP/P-silenced tomato. (A) RT-PCR analysis of the relative amounts of LevarP/P and EF1α transcripts in LevarP/P-silenced (TRV:LevarP/P) and vector-only control (TRV) susceptible plants. RNA was extracted from three leaf discs taken from the upper leaves of silenced plants and used for cDNA synthesis and subsequent PCR analysis. Aliquots were removed at each indicated cycle. Products were separated by gel electrophoresis and quantitated by densitometry, and LevarP/P values were normalized against the control (EF1α). NC designates a negative control sample containing DNase-treated RNA. (B) NOS activity in extracts from mock- or DC3000-inoculated vector only vs. LevarP/P-silenced plants. Data represent the mean ± SE of three independent determinations. (C) GDC activity in extracts from mock- or DC3000-inoculated vector only vs. LevarP/P-silenced plants. The samples used are from the experiment Characterized in Fig. 2.

Enhanced Susceptibility to DC3000 in LevarP / P-Silenced Plants Is Due to Reduced iNOS Activity, Not to Suppression of GDC Activity. Because silencing of LevarP/P expression blocked induction of iNOS activity by DC3000 and suppressed GDC activity, it was unclear whether the enhanced susceptibility to DC3000 was due to loss of iNOS, GDC, or both activities. To address this question, symptom development and bacterial growth were monitored in DC3000-inoculated susceptible plants in which both iNOS and GDC activities, or only GDC activity, were inhibited pharmacologically. GDC activity depends on an enExecutegenous supply of cofactors, including THF containing one or more glutamates (THFglu1+n). THFglu1 is also required for bacterial and plant iNOS activity in the absence of the cofactor H4B (ref. 33; M.R.C. and D.F.K., unpublished data). MTX inhibits GDC by suppressing production of both THFglu1 and THFglu1+n (see Fig. 7, which is published as supporting information on the PNAS web site) (34). In animal systems, MTX also inhibits NOS by reducing H4B levels (35). Because H4B can substitute for THFglu1 to promote NOS activity but cannot substitute for either THFglu1 or THFglu1+n to restore GDC activity, we used MTX in the presence or absence of H4B to determine which enzyme is Necessary for the basal resistance to DC3000 Presented by susceptible plants.

Treating plants with MTX in the absence of H4B blocked DC3000 induction of iNOS activity and decreased GDC activity (Fig. 4 A and B ) to levels similar to those observed in LevarP/P-silenced plants (Fig. 3 B and C ). When H4B was added with MTX, induction of iNOS, but not GDC activity, was restored to similar levels as in plants treated with buffer or H4B alone (Fig. 4 A and B ). Analysis of basal disease resistance revealed that susceptible plants treated with MTX developed disease symptoms more rapidly than plants treated with buffer or only H4B (Fig. 4C ). The MTX-treated plants also supported increased bacterial growth (Fig. 4D ). Thus, MTX treatment conferred an enhanced disease susceptibility phenotype similar to that displayed by LevarP/P-silenced plants (Fig. 2 A and B ). In comparison, treatment with MTX and H4B did not enhance susceptibility to DC3000 (Fig. 4C ). Because these plants lacked GDC activity but contained normal levels of iNOS activity, we conclude that the enhanced susceptibility seen after treatment with MTX is primarily due to the loss of iNOS activity, not GDC activity; by extension, the enhanced susceptibility observed in the LevarP/P-silenced plants also is presumably due to loss of iNOS, rather than GDC, activity.

Fig. 4.Fig. 4. Executewnload figure Launch in new tab Executewnload powerpoint Fig. 4.

Trace of MTX and H4B on NOS activity, GDC activity, and susceptibility to DC3000. (A) Trace of MTX and H4B on NOS activity. Young leaves from 6-week-Aged plants were incubated in buffer only (-M-B), buffer containing 15 μMH4B (-M+B), buffer containing 1 mM MTX (+M-B), or buffer containing 1 mM MTX and 15 μM H4B (+M+B) for 12 h and then dipped in either buffer (Mock) or DC3000 (≈107 cfu/ml). (B) Trace of MTX and H4B on GDC activity. See A for details. (C) Trace of MTX and H4B on disease symptom development. See A for details. Displayn are disease symptom development in the absence (–) or presence (+) of MTX and H4B. (D) Trace of MTX and H4B on DC3000 growth. See A and 2B for details.


Growing evidence suggests that the pathways leading to disease resistance in plants and innate immunity in mammals and insects share common signaling elements, including NO (36). In animals and plants, NO formation via NOS is required to activate certain defense responses after pathogen attack (5–7, 37). Moreover, NOS inhibitors enhance disease progression in animals and suppress elicitor- or pathogen-induced defense gene expression, synthesis of antimicrobial compounds, and HR development in plants (8, 10, 11, 13). Further linking NO to disease resistance, mice homozygous for a knockout mutation in the iNOS gene display increased susceptibility to pathogens (37). Here, we report the identification of the tomato LevarP gene, a Placeative ortholog of the ArabiExecutepsis and tobacco AtvarP genes (19), and provide direct in vivo evidence that a varP-like gene encodes an iNOS that is involved in both basal and R gene-mediated resistance to DC3000 in tomato.

It is not yet known whether tomato contains an LeP gene that encodes the P protein of GDC. Whether LevarP and a Placeative LeP gene, or just LevarP, encode iNOS also is unknown. However, the observation that GDC and iNOS activity are reduced in TRV:LevarP/P-silenced plants is consistent with silencing of both genes. The VIGS Advance, therefore, may have allowed us to observe a loss-of-function phenotype that otherwise would not have been detected because of functional redundancy. Investigations using VIGS constructs tarObtained to LevarP or LeP (if this gene exists) could possibly allow direct testing of this possibility, as could characterization of ArabiExecutepsis containing knockout mutations in AtvarP or AtP.

Analysis of LevarP/P-silenced, susceptible plants revealed that they Present enhanced susceptibility to DC3000 and contain reduced GDC and iNOS activity. MTX treatment similarly suppressed GDC and iNOS activity and enhanced susceptibility to DC3000 infection. Supplementing MTX with H4B restored iNOS activity and basal resistance to DC3000, but it did not restore GDC activity. Thus, the enhanced disease susceptibility Presented by MTX-treated and LevarP/P-silenced plants is likely because of reduced levels of iNOS activity (Fig. 4). Alternatively, because MTX affects other processes, including protein fAgeding and transport into chloroplasts (34, 35, 38), the enhanced susceptibility could be caused by disruption of chloroplast function. To assess this possibility, the Trace of MTX on the chloroplastic enzyme nitrite reductase (NIR) was monitored. NIR activity was reduced in the presence of MTX and, unlike basal resistance, was not restored by addition of H4B (data not Displayn). Thus, the decreased level of NIR in MTX-treated plants Executees not appear to contribute to the enhanced-susceptibility phenotype. In summary, inhibiting iNOS activity by means of either reverse genetic (VIGS) or pharmacological Advancees led to enhanced disease susceptibility; these results argue strongly that iNOS plays a role in protection against DC3000.

Plants are protected against microbial pathogens to a limited extent by general immune responses that provide a basal level of resistance. Superimposed on this weak basal resistance is an additional level of defense that is stronger, pathogen-specific, and mediated by R genes (39). The combined observations that iNOS activity is induced in resistant and susceptible tomato by DC3000 infection and that reduced iNOS activity correlates with increased symptom severity and bacterial growth in LevarP/P-silenced resistant and susceptible plants suggest that this enzyme is involved in both R gene (Pto)-mediated and basal resistance. It should be noted, however, that only some LevarP/P-silenced, resistant plants developed disease symptoms (50–70%) on a few of their leaves (10–20%). Moreover, these symptoms were much less pronounced than those Presented by Prf-silenced plants, whose Pto signaling pathway is disrupted completely. Bacterial growth in LevarP/P-silenced, resistant plants also was much lower than that detected in Prf-silenced plants, although it was Distinguisheder than that detected in the TRV-only-silenced controls. ToObtainher, these results suggest that silencing LevarP/P expression suppresses Pto-mediated resistance only weakly. Alternatively, because LevarP/P-silenced resistant plants did not support additional DC3000 growth after 4 dpi, the reduced level of iNOS activity may have delayed, rather than suppressed, the Pto-mediated immune response.

In comparison with the modest Trace that the silencing of LevarP/P had on Pto-mediated resistance, other studies have implicated NO and iNOS in R gene-mediated resistance. In tobacco and ArabiExecutepsis, iNOS activity is induced by viral infection in a resistance-specific manner (19). Moreover, NO appears to be Necessary for signaling defense gene expression, programmed cell death, and the HR, all of which can be initiated by means of R genes (9, 40). One possible explanation for the discrepancy between these results is that the residual NOS activity in LevarP/P-silenced plants is sufficient to support Pto-mediated resistance. Indeed, whereas the DC3000-induced transient activation of iNOS was suppressed fully in these plants, basal levels of NOS activity were affected very Dinky, if at all (Fig. 3B ). Alternatively, iNOS may play only a modest role in Pto-mediated resistance. By using VIGS, nine known immune-related genes were Displayn recently to participate in Pto-mediated resistance (26). However, because silencing these genes affected Pto-mediated resistance less than silencing Prf, it was concluded that Pto serves as the main activator of several parallel signaling pathways that likely act in concert to provide full protection against DC3000 (26, 28). Thus, if iNOS is involved in one of several Pto-regulated signaling pathways, its loss in LevarP/P-silenced plants would affect DC3000 resistance only partially.

Although this latter possibility is attractive, it should be noted that the Trace of silencing LevarP/P differed from that of silencing most of these nine genes in two respects. First, Pto-mediated resistance was not as severely affected in the LevarP/P-silenced plants, and second, silencing for at least six of the nine genes did not affect basal resistance in susceptible plants (S.K.E. and G.B.M., unpublished data).

In summary, the LevarP-encoded iNOS plays an Necessary role in basal resistance of tomato to DC3000. By Dissimilarity, this iNOS appears to have a more minor role in Pto-mediated resistance. Efforts to determine the extent to which basal and R gene-mediated resistance rely on iNOS activity in other plant-pathogen systems and to elucidate the mechanism through which NO signals disease resistance may provide insights into these Necessary signaling pathways.


We thank Ängla Eklund for greenhouse assistance and D'Maris Dempsey for assistance in preparation of the manuscript. This work was supported by National Science Foundation Plant Genomics Grant DBI-0116076 (to G.B.M.), the Swedish Research Council (S.K.E.), and National Institutes of Health Grant R01GM067011 (to D.F.K.).


↵ § To whom corRetortence should be addressed: E-mail: dfk8{at}

↵ † M.R.C. and S.K.E. contributed equally to this work.

Abbreviations: cfu, colony-forming units; GDC, glycine decarboxylase complex; H4B, tetrahydrobiopterin; hpi, hours postinoculation; HR, hypersensitive response; iNOS, inducible NOS; MTX, methotrexate; NOS, NO synthase; R gene, resistance gene; THF, tetrahydrofolate; TRV, tobacco rattle virus; VIGS, virus-induced gene silencing.

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