The NLR RPS4/RRS1 pair can be used in the cell death assay system, which is divided into autoimmune activity and effector-triggerred hypersensitive cell death response
Two NLR immune receptor proteins encoded by genetically linked genes function together as paired NLRs. They are divided into sensor NLR and helper NLR according to their function. Sensor NLR frequently has a non-canonical domain called the integrated domain (ID) which can recognize cognate effector protein 13, 14. Overexpression of helper NLR caused HR-like cell death in absence of sensor NLR. If coexpressed sensor/helper NLRs, the HR cell death is inhibited (Figure 1A) 13, 15. When a protein such as fluorescent protein was linked to the N-terminus or C-terminus of the sensor NLR RRS1, RPS4-dependent autoimmunity appeared without effector perception (Figure 1A) 9. In the engineering of sensor NLRs, it must be careful when engineering to utilize specific proteins. TIR (Toll-like, Interleukin-1 receptor, Resistance protein) or CC (coiled-coil) of the helper NLR act as a signaling domain. TIRRPS4 domain alone can activate TIR-dependent autoimmune and TIRRRS1 can suppress this HR cell death 16. TIR domain mutant RPS4(SH/AA) fail to activate HR, suggesting that TIRRPS4 oligomerization is required for generating the HR signal (Figure 1B). RRS1-R from accessions Ws-2 forms an immune receptor complex with RPS4 that recognizes Pseudomonas syringae AvrRps4, Ralstonia solanacearum PopP2, and unknown effector 7, 8, 17, 18. Thus the paired RPS4/RRS1-R can prevent infection by three distinct pathogens and it can be used as a very useful tool for crop engineering (Figure 1C). We summarize the following experimental procedures based on the RPS4/RRS1 system capable of performing these three types of HR cell death assays using the Agrobacterium-mediated transient expression in tobacco plant (Figure 1D).
Both RRS1-S and RRS1-R fused with fluorescent protein under low humidity conditions exhibited RPS4-dependent HR cell death
Sensor NLR is a good material for developing crops that recognize various pathogens by introducing new IDs. The positioning may alter the overall sensor NLR protein size or fuse new IDs into the N- or C-terminus 19. Bimolecular fluorescence complementation (BiFC) methods to confirm intra-/intercellular interactions should evaluate their function when applied to sensor NLRs 9, 20. We found that overexpression of cCFP-RRS1-S-nCerulean activated RPS4-depenent HR cell death in low humidity condition but this cell death was suppressed in the high humidity condition (Figure 2A). At 4 dpi, we could not detect any difference between cCFP-RRS1-S-nCerulean/RPS4-HA mediated autoimmune activity and cCFP-RRS1-S-nCerulean/RPS4-HA mediated HR cell death upon AvrRps4 perception (Figure 2A). As the result, it was confirmed that the humidity condition at a temperature of 22°C affected HR cell death.
In the case of RRS1-R, unlike RRS1-S, 83 amino acids are extended at the C-terminus, which is known to play a decisive role in recognizing PopP2 21. We tested changes in autoimmunity under difference humidity conditions using RRS1R-cCFP and RRS1-R-nCerulean. Consistent with cCFP-RRS1-S-nCerulean, both RRS1-R-cCFP and RRS1-R-nCerulean activated RPS4-dependent HR cell death under low humidity. High humidity can suppress these cell death in N. tabaccum (Figure 2B). Finally, humidity is an important determinant of HR cell death activation by paired NLR autoimmune.
Agro-infiltrated leaf location in the tobacco plant is also a critical factor in HR cell death assays
HR cell death assays using tobacco plants often show differences in the intensities of HR cell death. In particular, if agro-infiltration is performed using various leaves in one plant, the same cell death cannot be obtained. To confirm that these differences occurred, leaf positions of 4-5 week old N. benthamiana were numbered from top to bottom. In the leaf position #4, coexpression of RRS1-R-cCFP/RPS4-Myc or RRS1-R-nCerulean/RPS4-Myc exhibited strong HR cell death but not leaf position #5 (Figure 3A). Consistently, this autoimmune activity was suppressed by high humidity in N. benthamiana (Figure 3B). These results suggested that HR cell death is also affected by infiltrated leaf position and can be more easily detected under a relatively low humidity condition.
Agro-infiltrating leaf position is an important factor to evaluate HR cell death in both TIR RPS4 -mediated cell death and RPS4/RRS1-mediated effector triggered cell death
NLRs are divided into two groups depending on the type of N-terminal domain. The N-terminal coiled-coil (CC) domain is called CNLs (CC-NLRs), and those with the N-terminal Toll/interleukin-1 receptor (TIR) domain is called TNLs (TIR-NLRs) 22. Evolutionally, bacterial TIR domain proteins have NADase enzymatic activity that generates a non-canonical variant cyclic ADPR (cADPR) molecule and cleave NAD+ (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide) 23. The TIR domain of plant NLR also has NADase activity and is required downstream signaling 24, 25. The overexpression of TIRRPS4 domain is sufficient to activate autoimmune and oligomerization of TIRRPS4 domain is required for plant immune signaling 16. In the TIR-mediated immunity studies, the importance of TIR function evaluation is increasing.
The N. benthamiana is an excellent system for studying cell death induced by the TIR/CC domains. To test whether TIRRPS4 can induce HR cell death in N. benthamiana and which leaf positions are most suitable for HR cell death assays. When co-delivered 35S::TIRRPS4-GFP/35S::GFP control in leaf positions #4-#7, the HR cell death is detected in leaf position #4 and #5 (Figure 4A). In the leaf position #4, TIRRPS4-mediated autoimmune cell death is more potent than leaf position #5 (Figure 4A). In leaf positions #6 and #7, HR cell death is not detected (Figure 4A). If co-expressed 35S::TIRRPS4(SH/AA)-GFP/35S::GFP control, It cannot induce HR cell death because of inhibition of TIRRPS4 oligomerization (Figure 4A).
We also checked whether RPS4/RRS1 is functional in N. benthamiana system. When co-delivered 35S::RRS1-R-HF/35S::RPS4-Myc/35S::AvrRps4-GFP, clear HR cell death was observed in the leaf positions #4, but weak HR cell death was exhibited in the leaf positions #5 (Figure 4B). However, RPS4/RRS1-mediated HR cell death upon AvrRps4 perception is not observed in leaf positions #6-#7 (Figure 4B). We attempted to determine whether HR intensity was determined by leaf position in N. tabacum as in the N. benthamiana. Similarly, combination of 35S::RRS1-R-HF/35S::RPS4-Myc/35S::AvrRps4-GFP was co-expressed at leaf positions #4-#5 in N. tabacum. HR cell death phenotype was checked at 4 dpi. As expected, HR cell death was stronger in leaf position #4 than #5 (Figure 4C). In the effector triggered HR cell death, the position of the leaf used for Agro-infiltration affects the intensity of HR cell death both N. benthamiana and N. tabacum.
Based on the results, we have summarized the important factors in the tobacco-based Agro-infiltration cell death assay (Figure 5). In most reported cases, high temperature suppressed HR as well as disease resistance. The high temperature suppressed plant resistance under various experimental conditions 10, 11. In the HR cell death analysis, humidity and leaf position used for infiltration were found to be the most important factors. Ultimately, it is expected to be of great help in experiments to confirm the cell death phenotype that exhibits various NLRs under these optimal conditions. In addition, when preparing a sample for co-immunoprecipitation (co-IP) or western blot analysis rather than a cell death assay, if the humidity is high and the sample is collected from a location other than location #4, sufficient experiments are possible.