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Curr Opin Plant Biol. 2006 Aug;9(4):383-90. Epub 2006 May 19.

Resistance proteins: molecular switches of plant defence.

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Plant Pathology, Swammerdam Institute for Life Sciences, University of Amsterdam, PO Box 94062, 1090 GB Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


Specificity of the plant innate immune system is often conferred by resistance (R) proteins. Most R proteins contain leucine-rich repeats (LRRs), a central nucleotide-binding site (NBS) and a variable amino-terminal domain. The LRRs are mainly involved in recognition, whereas the amino-terminal domain determines signalling specificity. The NBS forms part of a nucleotide binding (NB)-ARC domain that presumably functions as a molecular switch. The conserved nature of NB-ARC proteins makes it possible to map mutations of R protein residues onto the crystal structures of related NB-ARC proteins, providing hypotheses for the functional roles of these residues. A functional model emerges in which the LRRs control the molecular state of the NB-ARC domain. Pathogen recognition triggers nucleotide-dependent conformational changes that might induce oligomerisation, thereby providing a scaffold for activation of downstream signalling components.

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