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Nat Genet. 2011 May;43(5):421-7. doi: 10.1038/ng.798. Epub 2011 Mar 27.

Glycerol-3-phosphate is a critical mobile inducer of systemic immunity in plants.

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Department of Plant Pathology, University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky, USA.


Glycerol-3-phosphate (G3P) is an important metabolite that contributes to the growth and disease-related physiologies of prokaryotes, plants, animals and humans alike. Here we show that G3P serves as the inducer of an important form of broad-spectrum immunity in plants, termed systemic acquired resistance (SAR). SAR is induced upon primary infection and protects distal tissues from secondary infections. Genetic mutants defective in G3P biosynthesis cannot induce SAR but can be rescued when G3P is supplied exogenously. Radioactive tracer experiments show that a G3P derivative is translocated to distal tissues, and this requires the lipid transfer protein, DIR1. Conversely, G3P is required for the translocation of DIR1 to distal tissues, which occurs through the symplast. These observations, along with the fact that dir1 plants accumulate reduced levels of G3P in their petiole exudates, suggest that the cooperative interaction of DIR1 and G3P orchestrates the induction of SAR in plants.

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