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FEBS Lett. 2003 Jul 10;546(2-3):173-80.

Small GTPase 'Rop': molecular switch for plant defense responses.

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  • 1Research Laboratory for Agricultural Biotechnology and Biochemistry (RLABB), GPO Box 8207, Kathmandu, Nepal.


The conserved Rho family of GTPases (Rho, Rac, and Cdc42) in fungi and mammals has emerged as a key regulator of diverse cellular activities, such as cytoskeletal rearrangements, programmed cell death, stress-induced signaling, and cell growth and differentiation. In plants, a unique class of Rho-like proteins, most closely related to mammalian Rac, has only been found and termed 'Rop' (Rho-related GTPase from plant [Li et al. (1998) Plant Physiol. 118, 407-417; Yang (2002) Plant Cell 14, S375-S388]). ROPs have been implicated in regulating various plant cellular responses including defense against pathogens. It has been shown that ROPs, like mammalian Rac, trigger hydrogen peroxide production and hence the 'oxidative burst', a crucial component associated with the cell death, most likely via activation of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate oxidase in both monocotyledonous and dicotyledonous species. Recent studies have established that ROPs also function as a molecular switch for defense signaling pathway(s) linked with disease resistance. As discerning the defense pathway remains one of the priority research areas in the field of plant biology, this review is therefore particularly focused on recent progresses that have been made towards understanding the plant defense responses mediated by ROPs.

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