A novel pathogenicity determinant hijacks maize catalase 1 to enhance viral multiplication and infection

Zhiyuan Jiao, Yiying Tian, Yanyong Cao, Juan Wang, Binhui Zhan, Zhenxing Zhao, Biao Sun, Chang Guo, Wendi Ma, Zhenfeng Liao, Hengmu Zhang, Tao Zhou, Yiji Xia, Zaifeng Fan*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

40 Citations (Scopus)


Pathogens have evolved various strategies to overcome host immunity for successful infection. Maize chlorotic mottle virus (MCMV) can cause lethal necrosis in maize (Zea mays) when it coinfects with a virus in the Potyviridae family. However, the MCMV pathogenicity determinant remains largely unknown. Here we show that the P31 protein of MCMV is important for viral accumulation and essential for symptom development. Ectopic expression of P31 using foxtail mosaic virus or potato virus X induced necrosis in systemically infected maize or Nicotiana benthamiana leaves. Maize catalases (CATs) were shown to interact with P31 in yeast and in planta. P31 accumulation was elevated through its interaction with ZmCAT1. P31 attenuated the expression of salicylic acid (SA)-responsive pathogenesis-related (PR) genes by inhibiting catalase activity during MCMV infection. In addition, silencing of ZmCATs using a brome mosaic virus-based gene silencing vector facilitated MCMV RNA and coat protein accumulation. This study reveals an important role for MCMV P31 in counteracting host defence and inducing systemic chlorosis and necrosis. Our results have implications for understanding the mechanisms in defence and counter-defence during infection of plants by various pathogens.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1126-1141
Number of pages16
JournalNew Phytologist
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - May 2021

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Physiology
  • Plant Science

User-Defined Keywords

  • catalase
  • maize chlorotic mottle virus (MCMV)
  • pathogenesis-related (PR) protein
  • salicylic acid (SA)-mediated defence
  • systemic necrosis
  • Zea mays


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