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PLoS One. 2010 Sep 14;5(9):e12725. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0012725.

Comparative genome analysis reveals an absence of leucine-rich repeat pattern-recognition receptor proteins in the kingdom Fungi.

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  • 1School of Biosciences, University of Exeter, Exeter, United Kingdom.



In plants and animals innate immunity is the first line of defence against attack by microbial pathogens. Specific molecular features of bacteria and fungi are recognised by pattern recognition receptors that have extracellular domains containing leucine rich repeats. Recognition of microbes by these receptors induces defence responses that protect hosts against potential microbial attack.


A survey of genome sequences from 101 species, representing a broad cross-section of the eukaryotic phylogenetic tree, reveals an absence of leucine rich repeat-domain containing receptors in the fungal kingdom. Uniquely, however, fungi possess adenylate cyclases that contain distinct leucine rich repeat-domains, which have been demonstrated to act as an alternative means of perceiving the presence of bacteria by at least one fungal species. Interestingly, the morphologically similar osmotrophic oomycetes, which are taxonomically distant members of the stramenopiles, possess pattern recognition receptors with similar domain structures to those found in plants.


The absence of pattern recognition receptors suggests that fungi may possess novel classes of pattern-recognition receptor, such as the modified adenylate cyclase, or instead rely on secretion of anti-microbial secondary metabolites for protection from microbial attack. The absence of pattern recognition receptors in fungi, coupled with their abundance in oomycetes, suggests this may be a unique characteristic of the fungal kingdom rather than a consequence of the osmotrophic growth form.

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