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Plant J. 2011 Oct;68(1):74-87. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-313X.2011.04669.x. Epub 2011 Jul 14.

ATG2, an autophagy-related protein, negatively affects powdery mildew resistance and mildew-induced cell death in Arabidopsis.

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State Key Laboratory of Plant Cell and Chromosome Engineering, Institute of Genetics and Developmental Biology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China.


The molecular interactions between Arabidopsis and the pathogenic powdery mildew Golovinomyces cichoracearum were studied by characterizing a disease-resistant Arabidopsis mutant atg2-2. The atg2-2 mutant showed enhanced resistance to powdery mildew and dramatic mildew-induced cell death as well as early senescence phenotypes in the absence of pathogens. Defense-related genes were constitutively activated in atg2-2. In atg2-2 mutants, spontaneous cell death, early senescence and disease resistance required the salicylic acid (SA) pathway, but interestingly, mildew-induced cell death was not fully suppressed by inactivation of SA signaling. Thus, cell death could be uncoupled from disease resistance, suggesting that cell death is not sufficient for resistance to powdery mildew. ATG2 encodes autophagy-related 2, a protein known to be involved in the early steps of autophagosome biogenesis. The atg2-2 mutant exhibited typical autophagy defects in autophagosome formation. Furthermore, mutations in several other ATG genes, including ATG5, ATG7 and ATG10, exhibited similar powdery mildew resistance and mildew-induced cell death phenotypes. Taken together, our findings provide insights into the role of autophagy in cell death and disease resistance, and may indicate general links between autophagy, senescence, programmed cell death and defense responses in plants.

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