PLANT IMMUNITY: Using decoys to expand the recognition specificity of a plant disease resistance protein

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Abstract

Maintaining high crop yields in an environmentally sustainable manner requires the development of disease-resistant crop varieties. We describe a method to engineer disease resistance in plants by means of an endogenous disease resistance gene fromArabidopsis thaliananamedRPS5, which encodes a nucleotide-binding leucine-rich repeat (NLR) protein. RPS5 is normally activated when a second host protein, PBS1, is cleaved by the pathogen-secreted protease AvrPphB. We show that the AvrPphB cleavage site within PBS1 can be substituted with cleavage sites for other pathogen proteases, which then enables RPS5 to be activated by these proteases, thereby conferring resistance to new pathogens. This “decoy” approach may be applicable to other NLR proteins and should enable engineering of resistance in plants to diseases for which we currently lack robust genetic resistance.

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