Phevamine A, a small molecule that suppresses plant immune responses

Erinn M. O'Neill, Tatiana S. Mucyn, Jon B. Patteson, Omri M. Finkel, Eui Hwan Chung, Joshua A. Baccile, Elisabetta Massolo, Frank C. Schroeder, Jeffery L. Dangl, Bo Li*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Bacterial plant pathogens cause significant crop damage worldwide. They invade plant cells by producing a variety of virulence factors, including small-molecule toxins and phytohormone mimics. Virulence of the model pathogen Pseudomonas syringae pv. tomato DC3000 (Pto) is regulated in part by the sigma factor HrpL. Our study of the HrpL regulon identified an uncharacterized, three-gene operon in Pto that is controlled by HrpL and related to the Erwinia hrp-associated systemic virulence (hsv) operon. Here, we demonstrate that the hsv operon contributes to the virulence of Pto on Arabidopsis thaliana and suppresses bacteria-induced immune responses. We show that the hsv-encoded enzymes in Pto synthesize a small molecule, phevamine A. This molecule consists of L-phenylalanine, L-valine, and a modified spermidine, and is different from known small molecules produced by phytopathogens. We show that phevamine A suppresses a potentiation effect of spermidine and L-arginine on the reactive oxygen species burst generated upon recognition of bacterial flagellin. The hsv operon is found in the genomes of divergent bacterial genera, including ∼37% of P. syringae genomes, suggesting that phevamine A is a widely distributed virulence factor in phytopathogens. Our work identifies a small-molecule virulence factor and reveals a mechanism by which bacterial pathogens overcome plant defense. This work highlights the power of omics approaches in identifying important small molecules in bacteriäChost interactions.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)E9514-E9522
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number41
StatePublished - 9 Oct 2018
Externally publishedYes

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