In plants, HIR (Hypersensitive Induced Reaction) proteins, members of the PID (Proliferation, Ion and Death) superfamily, have been shown to play a part in the development of spontaneous hypersensitive response lesions in leaves, in reaction to pathogen attacks. The levels of HIR proteins were shown to correlate with localized host cell deaths and defense responses in maize and barley. However, not much was known about the HIR proteins in rice. Since rice is an important cereal crop consumed by more than 50% of the populations in Asia and Africa, it is crucial to understand the mechanisms of disease responses in this plant. We previously identified the rice HIR1 (OsHIR1) as an interacting partner of the OsLRR1 (rice Leucine-Rich Repeat protein 1). Here we show that OsHIR1 triggers hypersensitive cell death and its localization to the plasma membrane is enhanced by OsLRR1.
Through electron microscopy studies using wild type rice plants, OsHIR1 was found to mainly localize to the plasma membrane, with a minor portion localized to the tonoplast. Moreover, the plasma membrane localization of OsHIR1 was enhanced in transgenic rice plants overexpressing its interacting protein partner, OsLRR1. Co-localization of OsHIR1 and OsLRR1 to the plasma membrane was confirmed by double-labeling electron microscopy. Pathogen inoculation studies using transgenic Arabidopsis thaliana expressing either OsHIR1 or OsLRR1 showed that both transgenic lines exhibited increased resistance toward the bacterial pathogen Pseudomonas syringae pv. tomato DC3000. However, OsHIR1 transgenic plants produced more extensive spontaneous hypersensitive response lesions and contained lower titers of the invading pathogen, when compared to OsLRR1 transgenic plants.
The OsHIR1 protein is mainly localized to the plasma membrane, and its subcellular localization in that compartment is enhanced by OsLRR1. The expression of OsHIR1 may sensitize the plant so that it is more prone to HR and hence can react more promptly to limit the invading pathogens' spread from the infection sites.