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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1997 Jun 24;94(13):7082-7.

Stress proteins on the yeast cell surface determine resistance to osmotin, a plant antifungal protein.

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  • 1Center for Plant Environmental Stress Physiology, 1165 Horticulture Department, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907-1165, USA.


Strains of the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae differ in their sensitivities to tobacco osmotin, an antifungal protein of the PR-5 family. However, cells sensitive to tobacco osmotin showed resistance to osmotin-like proteins purified from the plant Atriplex nummularia, indicating a strict specificity between the antifungal protein and its target cell. A member of a gene family encoding stress proteins induced by heat and nitrogen limitation, collectively called Pir proteins, was isolated among the genes that conveyed resistance to tobacco osmotin to a susceptible strain. We show that overexpression of Pir proteins increased resistance to osmotin, whereas simultaneous deletion of all PIR genes in a tolerant strain resulted in sensitivity. Pir proteins have been immunolocalized to the cell wall. The enzymatic digestion of the cell wall of sensitive and resistant cells rendered spheroplasts equally susceptible to the cytotoxic action of tobacco osmotin but not to other osmotin-like proteins, indicating that the cell membrane interacts specifically with osmotin and facilitates its action. Our results demonstrate that fungal cell wall proteins are determinants of resistance to antifungal PR-5 proteins.

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