Crop Biotech Update

Proteins Help Plants Fine-tune Immune Response to Pathogens

December 18, 2013

Researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research in Cologne and the Institute of Biochemistry at the University of Cologne have, together with colleagues, determined the three-dimensional structure of key proteins and their complexes, revealing how plants fine-tune their immune response to pathogens.

Like other organisms, plants defend themselves against attack from disease-causing microbes, using several layers of defense at different stages of infection, gradually ramping up their immune response. One such line of defense is "effector-triggered immunity," where plant immune receptors recognize specific disease factors produced by a highly adapted pathogen.

The researchers determined the atomic structure of the mobile protein EDS1-SAG101 complex. The structure revealed that the potentially active center is completely shielded by a kind of cover and they did not detect any lipase activity. The team also showed that Arabidopsis plants, in which the putative catalytic center of both EDS1 and PAD4 has been destroyed through mutations, are nonetheless fully competent in resistance to certain pathogens as the wild type proteins. They also showed that without the lipase-like domains, there are no stable complexes, and without heterodimerised C-terminals there is no immune response.

For more details about this research, read the news article at:
http://www.mpg.de/7654177/molecular-snapshot-plant-defence?filter_order=L&research_topic.