Evolutionarily conserved partial gene duplication in the Triticeae tribe of grasses confers pathogen resistance

Research paper by Jeyaraman Rajaraman, Dimitar Douchkov, Stefanie Lück, Götz Hensel, Daniela Nowara, Maria Pogoda, Twan Rutten, Tobias Meitzel, Jonathan Brassac, Caroline Höfle, Ralph Hückelhoven, Jörn Klinkenberg, Marco Trujillo, Eva Bauer, Thomas Schmutzer, et al.

Indexed on: 16 Aug '18Published on: 15 Aug '18Published in: Genome Biology


The large and highly repetitive genomes of the cultivated species Hordeum vulgare (barley), Triticum aestivum (wheat), and Secale cereale (rye) belonging to the Triticeae tribe of grasses appear to be particularly rich in gene-like sequences including partial duplicates. Most of them have been classified as putative pseudogenes. In this study we employ transient and stable gene silencing- and over-expression systems in barley to study the function of HvARM1 (for H. vulgare Armadillo 1), a partial gene duplicate of the U-box/armadillo-repeat E3 ligase HvPUB15 (for H. vulgare Plant U-Box 15).The partial ARM1 gene is derived from a gene-duplication event in a common ancestor of the Triticeae and contributes to quantitative host as well as nonhost resistance to the biotrophic powdery mildew fungus Blumeria graminis. In barley, allelic variants of HvARM1 but not of HvPUB15 are significantly associated with levels of powdery mildew infection. Both HvPUB15 and HvARM1 proteins interact in yeast and plant cells with the susceptibility-related, plastid-localized barley homologs of THF1 (for Thylakoid formation 1) and of ClpS1 (for Clp-protease adaptor S1) of Arabidopsis thaliana. A genome-wide scan for partial gene duplicates reveals further events in barley resulting in stress-regulated, potentially neo-functionalized, genes.The results suggest neo-functionalization of the partial gene copy HvARM1 increases resistance against powdery mildew infection. It further links plastid function with susceptibility to biotrophic pathogen attack. These findings shed new light on a novel mechanism to employ partial duplication of protein-protein interaction domains to facilitate the expansion of immune signaling networks.