Plant Pathology Department



James R. Alfano

Date of this Version



Molecular Plant-Microbe Interactions Nov 2006, Volume 19, Number 11, pp. 1167–1179. DOI: 10.1094/MPMI -19-1167.


U.S. government work.


Pseudomonas syringae pv. tomato DC3000 is a model pathogen of tomato and Arabidopsis that uses a hypersensitive response and pathogenicity (Hrp) type III secretion system (T3SS) to deliver virulence effector proteins into host cells. Expression of the Hrp system and many effector genes is activated by the HrpL alternative sigma factor. Here, an open reading frame-specific whole-genome microarray was constructed for DC3000 and used to comprehensively identify genes that are differentially expressed in wild-type and ΔhrpL strains. Among the genes whose differential regulation was statistically significant, 119 were upregulated and 76 were downregulated in the wild-type compared with the ΔhrpL strain. Hierarchical clustering revealed a subset of eight genes that were upregulated particularly rapidly. Gibbs sampling of regions upstream of HrpL-activated operons revealed the Hrp promoter as the only identifiable regulatory motif and supported an iterative refinement involving real-time polymerase chain reaction testing of additional HrpL-activated genes and refinements in a hidden Markov model that can be used to predict Hrp promoters in P. syringae strains. This iterative bioinformatic-experimental approach to a comprehensive analysis of the HrpL regulon revealed a mix of genes controlled by HrpL, including those encoding most type III effectors, twin-arginine transport (TAT) substrates, other regulatory proteins, and proteins involved in the synthesis or metabolism of phytohormones, phytotoxins, and myo-inositol. This analysis provides an extensively verified, robust method for predicting Hrp promoters in P. syringae genomes, and it supports subsequent identification of effectors and other factors that likely are important to the host-specific virulence of P. syringae.