Identification and analysis of seven effector protein families with different adaptive and evolutionary histories in plant-associated members of the Xanthomonadaceae

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The Xanthomonadaceae family consists of species of non-pathogenic and pathogenic gamma-proteobacteria that infect different hosts, including humans and plants. In this study, we performed a comparative analysis using 69 fully sequenced genomes belonging to this family, with a focus on identifying proteins enriched in phytopathogens that could explain the lifestyle and the ability to infect plants. Using a computational approach, we identified seven phytopathogen-enriched protein families putatively secreted by type II secretory system: PheA (CM-sec), LipA/LesA, VirK, and four families involved in N-glycan degradation, NixE, NixF, NixL, and FucA1. In silico and phylogenetic analyses of these protein families revealed they all have orthologs in other phytopathogenic or symbiotic bacteria, and are involved in the modulation and evasion of the immune system. As a proof of concept, we performed a biochemical characterization of LipA from Xac306 and verified that the mutant strain lost most of its lipase and esterase activities and displayed reduced virulence in citrus. Since this study includes closely related organisms with distinct lifestyles and highlights proteins directly related to adaptation inside plant tissues, novel approaches might use these proteins as biotechnological targets for disease control, and contribute to our understanding of the coevolution of plant-associated bacteria.


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  • Xanthomonadaceae
  • Xanthomonas oryzae pv. oryzae
  • Xylella fastidiosa


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