Mol. Plant Pathol. 24 (9) 1078-1092 [2023-09-00; online 2023-05-12]
Phospholipase A2 (PLA2 ) is a lipolytic enzyme that hydrolyses phospholipids in the cell membrane. In the present study, we investigated the role of secreted PLA2 (VlsPLA2 ) in Verticillium longisporum, a fungal phytopathogen that mostly infects plants belonging to the Brassicaceae family, causing severe annual yield loss worldwide. Expression of the VlsPLA2 gene, which encodes active PLA2 , is highly induced during the interaction of the fungus with the host plant Brassica napus. Heterologous expression of VlsPLA2 in Nicotiana benthamiana resulted in increased synthesis of certain phospholipids compared to plants in which enzymatically inactive PLA2 was expressed (VlsPLA2 ΔCD ). Moreover, VlsPLA2 suppresses the hypersensitive response triggered by the Cf4/Avr4 complex, thereby suppressing the chitin-induced reactive oxygen species burst. VlsPLA2 -overexpressing V. longisporum strains showed increased virulence in Arabidopsis plants, and transcriptomic analysis of this fungal strain revealed that the induction of the gene contributed to increased virulence. VlsPLA2 was initially localized to the host nucleus and then translocated to the chloroplasts at later time points. In addition, VlsPLA2 bound to the vesicle-associated membrane protein A (VAMPA) and was transported to the nuclear membrane. In the nucleus, VlsPLA2 caused major alterations in the expression levels of genes encoding transcription factors and subtilisin-like proteases, which play a role in plant immunity. In conclusion, our study showed that VlsPLA2 acts as a virulence factor, possibly by hydrolysing host nuclear envelope phospholipids, which, through a signal transduction cascade, may suppress basal plant immune responses.