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Plant J. 2003 Dec;36(5):589-601.

Functional analysis of barley RAC/ROP G-protein family members in susceptibility to the powdery mildew fungus.

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Institute of Phytopathology and Applied Zoology, Justus-Liebig-University Giessen, Heinrich-Buff Ring 26-32, D-35392 Giessen, Germany.


Small monomeric G-proteins of the plant ras (rat sarcome oncogene product) related C3 botulinum toxin substrate (RAC)/Rho of plants (ROP) family are molecular switches in signal transduction of many cellular processes. RAC/ROPs regulate hormone effects, subcellular gradients of Ca2+, the organisation of the actin cytoskeleton and the production of reactive oxygen intermediates. Therefore, we followed a genetic bottom-up strategy to study the role of these proteins during the interaction of barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) with the fungal biotrophic pathogen Blumeria graminis f.sp. hordei (Bgh). We identified six barley RAC/ROP proteins and studied their gene expression. Five out of six Rac/Rop genes were expressed constitutively in the leaf epidermis, which is the site of interaction with Bgh. None of the genes showed enhancement of mRNA abundance after inoculation with Bgh. After microprojectile mediated transformation of single barley epidermal cells with constitutively activated mutant RAC/ROP proteins, we found an RAC/ROP-specific enhancement of pathogen accessibility, tagging HvRACB, HvRAC3 and HvROP6 as host proteins potentially involved in the establishment of susceptibility to Bgh. Confocal laser scanning microscopy (CLSM) of green fluorescent protein (GFP):HvRAC/ROP-transformed cells revealed varying strengths of plasma membrane association of barley RAC/ROPs. The C-terminal CAAX motif for presumable prenylation or the C-terminal hypervariable region (HVR), respectively, were required for membrane association of the RAC/ROPs. Proper intracellular localisation was essential for HvRACB and HvRAC3 function. Together, our data support the view that different paths of host signal transduction via RAC/ROP G-proteins are involved in processes supporting parasitic entry into epidermal host cells.

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