Research ArticleHost-Pathogen Interactions

Agrobacterium Counteracts Host-Induced Degradation of Its Effector F-Box Protein

Science Signaling  18 Oct 2011:
Vol. 4, Issue 195, pp. ra69
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.2002124

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Maintaining Virulence

Agrobacterium tumefaciens is a bacterial pathogen that genetically transforms its hosts, which include several commercially important plants such as grapevines and roses, and induces neoplastic growths termed crown galls (tumors). Agrobacterium-induced genetic transformation and tumorigenesis require the integration of a bacterial DNA molecule into the host genome, a process that involves the virulence factor VirF, an F-box protein that is incorporated into the host cell machinery that targets proteins for degradation. Many F-box proteins, including VirF, are themselves unstable and become degraded, leading Magori and Citovsky to investigate how Agrobacterium stabilizes VirF. They found that VirD5, another effector protein produced by Agrobacterium, associated with VirF and prevented its degradation. Indeed, a strain of Agrobacterium lacking VirD5 formed fewer tumors on tomato plants than did a wild-type strain with VirD5. These findings suggest a general strategy by which other pathogens may stabilize their F-box effector proteins in infected cells.