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Trends Plant Sci. 2002 Sep;7(9):392-8.

Alternative splicing of transcripts encoding Toll-like plant resistance proteins - what's the functional relevance to innate immunity?

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  • 1Institute of Genetics, Martin-Luther-Universit├Ąt, Halle-Wittenberg, 06099 Halle, Saale, Germany.


Innate immunity in plants and animals shares many structural and functional homologies, which suggests an ancient origin of cellular defense mechanisms in both kingdoms. Pathogen sensing in animal innate immunity is mediated by Toll-like receptors (TLRs). These receptors have TIR (Toll/interleukin-1 receptor) domains and leucine-rich repeats, which are modules also present in many plant resistance (R) proteins. Molecular analysis of transcripts encoding animal TLRs and Toll-like plant R proteins revealed many cases of alternative splicing. Recent studies of the tobacco N and the Arabidopsis RPS4 genes, both encoding Toll-like plant R proteins, showed that intron-deprived genes have reduced or no activity, suggesting that alternative splicing is a crucial component in these signaling pathways.

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