Evaluation of Secretion Prediction Highlights Differing Approaches Needed for Oomycete and Fungal Effectors
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The steadily increasing number of sequenced fungal and oomycete genomes has enabled detailed studies of how these eukaryotic microbes infect plants and cause devastating losses in food crops. During infection, fungal and oomycete pathogens secrete effector molecules which manipulate host plant cell processes to the pathogen’s advantage. Proteinaceous effectors are synthesised intracellularly and must be externalised to interact with host cells. Consequently, computational prediction of secreted proteins from genomic sequences is an important technique to narrow down the candidate effector repertoire for subsequent experimental validation. In this study, we benchmark secretion prediction tools on experimentally validated fungal and oomycete effectors. We observe that for a set of fungal SwissProt protein sequences, SignalP 4 and the neural network predictors of SignalP 3 (D-score) and SignalP 2 are the most accurate predictors of secretion. We show that the neural network predictors of SignalP 2 and 3, as well as TargetP were the most sensitive tools for fungal effector secretion prediction, whereas the hidden Markov model predictors of SignalP 2 and 3 were the most sensitive tools for oomycete effectors. Thus, previous versions of SignalP retain value for oomycete effector prediction, as the current version, SignalP 4, was unable to reliably predict the signal peptide of the oomycete Crinkler effectors in the test set. Our assessment of subcellular localisation predictors shows that cytoplasmic effectors are often predicted as not extracellular. This limits the reliability of secretion predictions that depend on these tools. We present our assessment with a view to informing future pathogenomics studies and suggest revised pipelines for secretion prediction to obtain optimal effector predictions in fungi and oomycetes.
This open access article is distributed under the Creative Commons license http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
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