Pierce's disease (PD) is a deadly disease of grapevines caused by the Gram-negative bacterium Xylella fastidiosa. Though disease symptoms were formerly attributed to bacteria blocking the plant xylem, this hypothesis is at best overly simplistic. Recently, we used a proteomic approach to characterize the secretome of X. fastidiosa, both in vitro and in planta, and identified LesA as one of the pathogenicity factors of X. fastidiosa in grapevines that leads to leaf scorching and chlorosis. Herein, we characterize another such factor encoded by PD0956, designated as an antivirulence secreted protease "PrtA" that displays a central role in controlling in vitro cell proliferation, length, motility, biofilm formation, and in planta virulence. The mutant in X. fastidiosa exhibited reduced cell length, hypermotility (and subsequent lack of biofilm formation) and hypervirulence in grapevines. These findings are supported by transcriptomic and proteomic analyses with corresponding plant infection data. Of particular interest, is the hypervirulent response in grapevines observed when X. fastidiosa is disrupted for production of PrtA, and that PD-model tobacco plants transformed to express PrtA exhibited decreased symptoms after infection by X. fastidiosa.
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