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Science. 2011 Jul 29;333(6042):596-601. doi: 10.1126/science.1203659.

Independently evolved virulence effectors converge onto hubs in a plant immune system network.

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  • 1Department of Biology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC 27599, USA.


Plants generate effective responses to infection by recognizing both conserved and variable pathogen-encoded molecules. Pathogens deploy virulence effector proteins into host cells, where they interact physically with host proteins to modulate defense. We generated an interaction network of plant-pathogen effectors from two pathogens spanning the eukaryote-eubacteria divergence, three classes of Arabidopsis immune system proteins, and ~8000 other Arabidopsis proteins. We noted convergence of effectors onto highly interconnected host proteins and indirect, rather than direct, connections between effectors and plant immune receptors. We demonstrated plant immune system functions for 15 of 17 tested host proteins that interact with effectors from both pathogens. Thus, pathogens from different kingdoms deploy independently evolved virulence proteins that interact with a limited set of highly connected cellular hubs to facilitate their diverse life-cycle strategies.

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