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EMBO J. 2010 Mar 17;29(6):1021-32. doi: 10.1038/emboj.2010.8. Epub 2010 Feb 11.

New insights into an old story: Agrobacterium-induced tumour formation in plants by plant transformation.

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Department of Applied Genetics and Cell Biology, University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences, Muthgasse 18, Vienna, Austria.


Agrobacterium tumefaciens causes tumour formation in plants. Plant signals induce in the bacteria the expression of a range of virulence (Vir) proteins and the formation of a type IV secretion system (T4SS). On attachment to plant cells, a transfer DNA (T-DNA) and Vir proteins are imported into the host cells through the bacterial T4SS. Through interaction with a number of host proteins, the Vir proteins suppress the host innate immune system and support the transfer, nuclear targeting, and integration of T-DNA into host cell chromosomes. Owing to extensive genetic analyses, the bacterial side of the plant-Agrobacterium interaction is well understood. However, progress on the plant side has only been achieved recently, revealing a highly complex molecular choreography under the direction of the Vir proteins that impinge on multiple processes including transport, transcription, and chromosome status of their host cells.

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