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New publication from the Hückelhoven lab: CRIB motif-containing barley RIC157 is a novel ROP scaffold protein that interacts directly with barley RACB, promotes susceptibility to fungal penetration, and colocalizes with RACB at the haustorial entry site.

Barley RIC157, a potential RACB scaffold protein, is involved in susceptibility to powdery mildew.

Plant Mol. Biol. 111:329-344

Stefan Engelhardt, Adriana Trutzenberg, Michaela Kopischke, Katja Probst, Christopher McCollum, Johanna Hofer, Ralph Hückelhoven (2023). 

Successful obligate pathogens benefit from host cellular processes. For the biotrophic ascomycete fungus Blumeria hordei (Bh) it has been shown that barley RACB, a small monomeric G-protein (ROP, Rho of plants), is required for full susceptibility to fungal penetration. The susceptibility function of RACB probably lies in its role in cell polarity, which may be co-opted by the pathogen for invasive ingrowth of its haustorium. However, how RACB supports fungal penetration success and which other host proteins coordinate this process is incompletely understood. RIC (ROP-Interactive and CRIB-(Cdc42/Rac Interactive Binding) motif-containing) proteins are considered scaffold proteins which can interact directly with ROPs via a conserved CRIB motif. Here we describe a previously uncharacterized barley RIC protein, RIC157, which can interact directly with RACB in planta. We show that, in the presence of constitutively activated RACB, RIC157 shows a localization at the cell periphery/plasma membrane, whereas it otherwise localizes to the cytoplasm. RIC157 appears to mutually stabilize the plasma membrane localization of the activated ROP. During fungal infection, RIC157 and RACB colocalize at the penetration site, particularly at the haustorial neck. Additionally, transiently overexpressed RIC157 renders barley epidermal cells more susceptible to fungal penetration. We discuss that RIC157 may promote fungal penetration into barley epidermal cells by operating probably downstream of activated RACB.