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Plant Signal Behav. 2010 Oct;5(10):1245-8. doi: 10.4161/psb.5.10.12947. Epub 2010 Oct 1.

Plant defense pathways subverted by Agrobacterium for genetic transformation.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry and Cell Biology, State University of New York, Stony Brook, NY, USA.


The soil phytopathogen Agrobacterium has the unique ability to introduce single-stranded transferred DNA (T-DNA) from its tumor-inducing (Ti) plasmid into the host cell in a process known as horizontal gene transfer. Following its entry into the host cell cytoplasm, the T-DNA associates with the bacterial virulence (Vir) E2 protein, also exported from Agrobacterium, creating the T-DNA nucleoprotein complex (T-complex), which is then translocated into the nucleus where the DNA is integrated into the host chromatin. VirE2 protects the T-DNA from the host DNase activities, packages it into a helical filament, and interacts with the host proteins, one of which, VIP1, facilitates nuclear import of the T-complex and its subsequent targeting to the host chromatin. Although the VirE2 and VIP1 protein components of the T-complex are vital for its intracellular transport, they must be removed to expose the T-DNA for integration. Our recent work demonstrated that this task is aided by an host defense-related F-box protein VBF that is induced by Agrobacterium infection and that recognizes and binds VIP1. VBF destabilizes VirE2 and VIP1 in yeast and plant cells, presumably via SCF-mediated proteasomal degradation. VBF expression in and export from the Agrobacterium cell lead to increased tumorigenesis. Here, we discuss these findings in the context of the "arms race" between Agrobacterium infectivity and plant defense.

© 2010 Landes Bioscience

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