1. Department of Entomology, China Agricultural University, Beijing 100193, China
2. Department of Entomology, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY 40546-0091, USA
The pine wood nematode, Bursaphelenchus xylophilus, is an invasive plant parasitic nematode and a worldwide quarantine pest. An indigenous species in North America and the causal agent of pine wilt disease, B. xylophilus has devastated pine production in Southeastern Asia including Japan, China, and Korea since its initial introduction in the early 1900s. The reactive oxygen species (ROS) is the first line of defense utilized by host plants against parasites, while nematodes, counteractively, employ antioxidants to facilitate their infection. Peroxiredoxins (Prxs) are a large class of antioxidants recently found in a wide variety of organisms. In this report, a gene encoding a novel 2-cysteine peroxiredoxin protein in B. xylophilus was cloned and characterized. The 2-cysteine peroxiredoxin in B. xylophilus (herein refers to as “BxPrx”) is highly conserved in comparison to 2-cysteine peroxiredoxins (Prx2s) in other nematodes, which have two conserved cysteine amino acids (Cp and Cr), a threonine-cysteine-arginine catalytic triad, and two signature motifs (GGLG and YF) sensitive to hydrogen peroxide. In silico assembly of BxPrx tertiary structure reveals the spatial configuration of these conserved domains and the simulated BxPrx 3-dimensional structure is congruent with its presumed redox functions. Although no signal peptide was identified, BxPrx was abundantly expressed and secreted under the B. xylophilus cuticle. Upon further analysis of this leader-less peptide, a single transmembrane α-helix composed of 23 consecutive hydrophobic amino acids was found in the primary structure of BxPrx. This transmembrane region and/or readily available ATP binding cassette transporters may facilitate the transport of non-classical BxPrx across the cell membrane. Recombinant BxPrx showed peroxidase activity in vitro reducing hydrogen peroxide using glutathione as the electron donor. The combined results from gene discovery, protein expression and distribution profiling (especially the “surprising” presence under the nematode cuticle), and recombinant antioxidant activity suggest that BxPrx plays a key role in combating the oxidative burst engineered by the ROS defense system in host plants during the infection process. In summary, BxPrx is a genetic factor potentially facilitating B. xylophilus infestation.
Keywords: Bursaphelenchus xylophilus, pine wilt disease, reactive oxygen species, Peroxiredoxin, hydrogen peroxide.