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Curr Opin Plant Biol. 2006 Aug;9(4):406-13. Epub 2006 May 22.

Show and tell: cell biology of pathogen invasion.

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  • 1Carnegie Institution, Department of Plant Biology, 260 Panama Street, Stanford, California 94305, USA.


Because the initial stages of pathogen invasion are often confined to a limited number of host cells, measures of host responses that are averaged over attacked and non-attacked cells provide an unsatisfactory view of these events. To identify the earliest and often transient responses to pathogen attack, there is considerable interest in monitoring the subcellular events that occur specifically in living host cells. Recent improvements in live-cell imaging using fluorescent-tagged markers have expanded the scope of the experiments that can be performed. Changes in the subcellular distribution of organelles and of fluorescently tagged proteins can be monitored in real time in living tissues during pathogen attack, and the dynamic nature of such changes across space and over time can be determined. The application of these sensitive imaging methods has extended earlier observations, made with Nomarski microscopy or inferred from static transmission electron micrographs, about the focal accumulation of subcellular organelles at sites of pathogen attack. In addition, recent experiments have demonstrated the focused accumulation and interaction of specific plant proteins at penetration sites, opening a new window on early host responses and raising questions about the underlying plant processes that sense and direct this marshalling of host resources to block pathogen entry.

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