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Plant J. 1999 Aug;19(4):453-62.

K+ channels of Cf-9 transgenic tobacco guard cells as targets for Cladosporium fulvum Avr9 elicitor-dependent signal transduction.

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Laboratory of Plant Physiology and Biophysics, Wye College, University of London, Wye, Kent, UK.


The Cf-9 gene encodes an extracytosolic leucine-rich repeat (LRR) protein that is membrane anchored near its C-terminus. The protein confers resistance in tomato to races of the fungus Cladosporium fulvum expressing the corresponding avirulence gene Avr9. In Nicotiana tabacum the Cf-9 transgene confers sensitivity to the Avr9 elicitor, and leads on elicitation to a subset of defence responses qualitatively similar to those normally seen in the tomato host. One of the earliest responses, both in the native and transgenic hosts, results in K+ salt loss from the infected tissues. However, the mechanism(s) underlying this solute flux and its control is poorly understood. We have explored the actions of Avr9 on Cf-9 transgenic Nicotiana using guard cells as a model. Much detail of guard cell ion channels and their regulation is already known. Measurements were carried out on intact guard cells in epidermal peels, and the currents carried by inward- (IK,in) and outward-rectifying (IK,out) K+ channels were characterized under voltage clamp. Exposures to Avr9-containing extracts resulted in a 2.5- to 3-fold stimulation of IK,out and almost complete suppression of IK,in within 3-5 min. The K+ channel responses were irreversible. They were specific for the Avr9 elicitor, were not observed in guard cells of Nicotiana lacking the Cf-9 transgene and, from kinetic analyses, could be ascribed to changes in channel gating. Both K+ channel responses were found to be saturable functions of Avr9 concentration and were completely blocked in the presence of 0.5 microM staurosporine and 100 microM H7, both broad-range protein kinase antagonists. These results demonstrate the ability of the Cf-9 transgene to couple Avr9 elicitation specifically to a concerted action on two discrete K+ channels and they indicate a role for protein phosphorylation in Avr9/Cf-9 signal transduction leading to transport control.

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