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Plant Signal Behav. 2011 Jan;6(1):42-8. Epub 2011 Jan 1.

The plant cell nucleus: a true arena for the fight between plants and pathogens.

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Laboratoire des Interactions Plantes-Microorganismes (LIPM), UMR CNRS-INRA, Castanet Tolosan, France.


Communication between the cytoplasm and the nucleus is a fundamental feature shared by both plant and animal cells. Cellular factors involved in the transport of macromolecules through the nuclear envelope, including nucleoporins, importins and Ran-GTP related components, are conserved among a variety of eukaryotic systems. Interestingly, mutations in these nuclear components compromise resistance signalling, illustrating the importance of nucleocytoplasmic trafficking in plant innate immunity. Indeed, spatial restriction of defence regulators by the nuclear envelope and stimulus-induced nuclear translocation constitute an important level of defence-associated gene regulation in plants. A significant number of effectors from different microbial pathogens are targeted to the plant cell nucleus. In addition, key host factors, including resistance proteins, immunity components, transcription factors and transcriptional regulators shuttle between the cytoplasm and the nucleus, and their level of nuclear accumulation determines the output of the defence response, further confirming the crucial role played by the nucleus during the interaction between plants and pathogens. Here, we discuss recent findings that situate the nucleus at the frontline of the mutual recognition between plants and invading microbes.

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