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Semin Cell Dev Biol. 2009 Dec;20(9):1041-7. doi: 10.1016/j.semcdb.2009.04.012. Epub 2009 May 3.

Autophagy and plant innate immunity: Defense through degradation.

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Department of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology, Yale University, New Haven, CT 06520-8103, USA.


Autophagy is a process of bulk degradation and nutrient sequestration that occurs in all eukaryotes. In plants, autophagy is activated during development, environmental stress, starvation, and senescence. Recent evidence suggests that autophagy is also necessary for the proper regulation of hypersensitive response programmed cell death (HR-PCD) during the plant innate immune response. We review autophagy in plants with emphasis on the role of autophagy during innate immunity. We hypothesize a role for autophagy in the degradation of pro-death signals during HR-PCD, with specific focus on reactive oxygen species and their sources. We propose that the plant chloroplasts are an important source of pro-death signals during HR-PCD, and that the chloroplast itself may be targeted for autophagosomal degradation by a process called chlorophagy.

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