Dominant negative RPW8.2 fusion proteins reveal the importance of haustorium-oriented protein trafficking for resistance against powdery mildew in Arabidopsis

Powdery mildew fungi form feeding structures called haustoria inside epidermal cells of host plants to extract photosynthates for their epiphytic growth and reproduction. The haustorium is encased by an interfacial membrane termed the extrahaustorial membrane (EHM). The atypical resistance protein RPW8.2 from Arabidopsis is specifically targeted to the EHM where RPW8.2 activates haustorium-targeted (thus broad-spectrum) resistance against powdery mildew fungi. EHM-specific localization of RPW8.2 suggests the existence of an EHM-oriented protein/membrane trafficking pathway during EHM biogenesis. However, the importance of this specific trafficking pathway for host defense has not been evaluated via a genetic approach without affecting other trafficking pathways. Here, we report that expression of EHM-oriented, nonfunctional RPW8.2 chimeric proteins exerts dominant negative effect over functional RPW8.2 and potentially over other EHM-localized defense proteins, thereby compromising both RPW8.2-mediated and basal resistance to powdery mildew. Thus, our results highlight the importance of the EHM-oriented protein/membrane trafficking pathway for host resistance against haustorium-forming pathogens such as powdery mildew fungi.