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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2003 Apr 29;100(9):5555-60. Epub 2003 Apr 18.

Overexpression of barley BAX inhibitor 1 induces breakdown of mlo-mediated penetration resistance to Blumeria graminis.

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Interdisciplinary Research Centre for Environmental Sciences, Institute of Phytopathology and Applied Zoology, Justus-Liebig-University Giessen, Heinrich-Buff Ring 26-32, D-35392 Giessen, Germany.


Cell death regulation is linked to pathogen defense in plants and animals. Execution of apoptosis as one type of programmed cell death in animals is irreversibly triggered by cytochrome c release from mitochondria via pores formed by BAX proteins. This type of programmed cell death can be prevented by expression of BAX inhibitor 1 (BI-1), a membrane protein that protects cells from the effects of BAX by an unknown mechanism. In barley, a homologue of the mammalian BI-1 is expressed in response to inoculation with the barley powdery mildew fungus Blumeria graminis f.sp. hordei (Bgh). We found differential expression of BI-1 in response to Bgh in susceptible and resistant plants. Chemical induction of resistance to Bgh by soil drench treatment with 2,6-dichloroisonicotinic acid led to down-regulation of the expression level of BI-1. Importantly, single-cell transient overexpression of BI-1 in epidermal leaf tissue of susceptible barley cultivar Ingrid led to enhanced accessibility, resulting in a higher penetration efficiency of Bgh on BI-1-transformed cells. In Bgh-resistant mlo5 genotypes, which do not express the negative regulator of defense and cell death MLO, overexpression of BI-1 almost completely reconstituted susceptibility to fungal penetration. We suggest that BI-1 is a regulator of cellular defense in barley sufficient to substitute for MLO function in accessibility to fungal parasites.

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