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Annu Rev Phytopathol. 2009;47:233-63. doi: 10.1146/annurev.phyto.112408.132637.

Fungal effector proteins.

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Wageningen University and Research Center ( ), Laboratory of Phytopathology, 6709 PD Wageningen, The Netherlands.


It is accepted that most fungal avirulence genes encode virulence factors that are called effectors. Most fungal effectors are secreted, cysteine-rich proteins, and a role in virulence has been shown for a few of them, including Avr2 and Avr4 of Cladosporium fulvum, which inhibit plant cysteine proteases and protect chitin in fungal cell walls against plant chitinases, respectively. In resistant plants, effectors are directly or indirectly recognized by cognate resistance proteins that reside either inside the plant cell or on plasma membranes. Several secreted effectors function inside the host cell, but the uptake mechanism is not yet known. Variation observed among fungal effectors shows two types of selection that appear to relate to whether they interact directly or indirectly with their cognate resistance proteins. Direct interactions seem to favor point mutations in effector genes, leading to amino acid substitutions, whereas indirect interactions seem to favor jettison of effector genes.

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