Knockdown of the chitin-binding protein family gene CaChiIV1 increased sensitivity to Phytophthora capsici and drought stress in pepper plants.Mol Genet Genomics. 2019 Oct; 294(5):1311-1326.MG
Phytophthora capsici has been the most destructive pathogen of pepper plants (Capsicum annuum L.), possessing the ability to quickly overcome the host defense system. In this context, the chitin-binding protein (CBP) family member CaChiIV1 regulates the response to P. capsici and abiotic stresses. The relevance of functional characterization and regulation of CaChiIV1 has not been explored in horticultural crops, especially pepper plants. The target gene (CaChiIV1) was isolated from pepper plants and cloned; the encoded protein carries a chitin-binding domain (CBD) that is rich in cysteine residues and has a hinge region with an abundance of proline and glycine residues. Additionally, the conserved regions in the promoter have a remarkable motif, "TTGACC". The expression of CaChiIV1 was markedly regulated by methyl-jasmonate (MeJA), hydrogen peroxide (H2O2), melatonin, mannitol and P. capsici (PC and HX-9) infection. Knockdown of CaChiIV1 in pepper plants increased sensitivity to P. capsici (PC strain). Higher malondialdehyde (MDA) content and relative electrolyte leakage (REL) but lower antioxidant enzyme activities, chlorophyll content, root activity, and proline content were observed in CaChiIV1-silenced plants than in control plants. In conclusion, CaChiIV1-silenced pepper plants displayed increased susceptibility to P. capsici infection due to changes in expression of defense-related genes, thus showing its coregulation affect in particular conditions. Furthermore, antioxidant enzymes and proline content were largely diminished in CaChiIV1-silenced plants. Therefore, this evidence suggests that the CaChiIV1 gene plays a prominent role in the defense mechanism of pepper plants against P. capsici infection. In the future, the potential role of the CaChiIV1 gene in defense regulatory pathways and its coregulation with other pathogen-related genes should be identified.