Functional characterization of HFR1, a high-mannose N-glycan-specific wheat lectin induced by Hessian fly larvae.

Research paper by Subhashree S Subramanyam, David F DF Smith, James C JC Clemens, Mary A MA Webb, Nagesh N Sardesai, Christie E CE Williams

Indexed on: 10 May '08Published on: 10 May '08Published in: Plant physiology


We previously cloned and characterized a novel jacalin-like lectin gene from wheat (Triticum aestivum) plants that responds to infestation by Hessian fly (Mayetiola destructor) larvae, a major dipteran pest of this crop. The infested resistant plants accumulated higher levels of Hfr-1 (for Hessian fly-responsive gene 1) transcripts compared with uninfested or susceptible plants. Here, we characterize the soluble and active recombinant His(6)-HFR1 protein isolated from Escherichia coli. Functional characterization of the protein using hemagglutination assays revealed lectin activity. Glycan microarray-binding assays indicated strong affinity of His(6)-HFR1 to Manalpha1-6(Manalpha1-3)Man trisaccharide structures. Resistant wheat plants accumulated high levels of HFR1 at the larval feeding sites, as revealed by immunodetection, but the avirulent larvae were deterred from feeding and consumed only small amounts of the lectin. Behavioral studies revealed that avirulent Hessian fly larvae on resistant plants exhibited prolonged searching and writhing behaviors as they unsuccessfully attempted to establish feeding sites. During His(6)-HFR1 feeding bioassays, Drosophila melanogaster larvae experienced significant delays in growth and pupation, while percentage mortality increased with progressively higher concentrations of His(6)-HFR1 in the diet. Thus, HFR1 is an antinutrient to dipteran larvae and may play a significant role in deterring Hessian fly larvae from feeding on resistant wheat plants.