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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2007 Nov 20;104(47):18795-800. Epub 2007 Nov 14.

The developmental selector AS1 is an evolutionarily conserved regulator of the plant immune response.

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Institute of Molecular Plant Sciences, School of Biological Sciences, University of Edinburgh, King's Buildings, Edinburgh EH9 3JR, United Kingdom.


The MYB-related gene ASYMMETRIC LEAVES 1 (AS1) and its orthologs have an evolutionarily conserved role in specification of leaf cell identity. AS1 is expressed in leaf founder cells, where it functions as a heterodimer with the structurally unrelated AS2 proteins to repress activity of KNOTTED 1-like homeobox (KNOX) genes. AS1 therefore confines KNOX activity to the shoot apical meristem, where it promotes stem cell function through the regulation of phytohormone activities. Here, we show that loss-of-function mutations in AS1 unexpectedly convey heightened protection against necrotrophic fungi. AS1 operates as a negative regulator of inducible resistance against these pathogens by selectively binding to the promoters of genes controlled by the immune activator, jasmonic acid (JA), damping the defense response. In contrast, AS1 is a positive regulator of salicylic acid (SA)-independent extracellular defenses against bacterial pathogens. Neither the absence of AS2 nor ERECTA function, which enhances the morphological phenotype of as1, nor the conditional or constitutive expression of KNOX genes impacted disease resistance. Thus, the function of AS1 in responses to phytopathogens is independent of its AS2-associated role in development. Loss of function in the AS1 orthologs PHAN in Antirrhinum majus and NSPHAN in Nicotiana sylvestris produced pathogen-response phenotypes similar to as1 plants, and therefore the defense function of AS1 is evolutionarily conserved in plant species with a divergence time of approximately 125 million years.

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