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Mol Plant Microbe Interact. 2015 Dec;28(12):1316-29. doi: 10.1094/MPMI-07-15-0147-R. Epub 2015 Dec 4.

Tomato I2 Immune Receptor Can Be Engineered to Confer Partial Resistance to the Oomycete Phytophthora infestans in Addition to the Fungus Fusarium oxysporum.

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1 The Sainsbury Laboratory, Norwich Research Park, NR4 7UH Norwich, United Kingdom;
2 Department of Biological Chemistry, John Innes Centre, Norwich Research Park, Norwich, NR4 7UH, United Kingdom;
3 INGEBI-CONICET, Ciudad Autónoma de Buenos Aires, C1428ADN, Argentina;
4 Imperial College, Faculty of Natural Sciences, Department of Life Sciences, South Kensington Campus, London SW7 2AZ, United Kingdom; and.
5 The Genome Analysis Centre, Norwich Research Park, NR4 7UH Norwich, United Kingdom.


Plants and animals rely on immune receptors, known as nucleotide-binding domain and leucine-rich repeat (NLR)-containing proteins, to defend against invading pathogens and activate immune responses. How NLR receptors respond to pathogens is inadequately understood. We previously reported single-residue mutations that expand the response of the potato immune receptor R3a to AVR3a(EM), a stealthy effector from the late blight oomycete pathogen Phytophthora infestans. I2, another NLR that mediates resistance to the will-causing fungus Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. lycopersici, is the tomato ortholog of R3a. We transferred previously identified R3a mutations to I2 to assess the degree to which the resulting I2 mutants have an altered response. We discovered that wild-type I2 protein responds weakly to AVR3a. One mutant in the N-terminal coiled-coil domain, I2(I141N), appeared sensitized and displayed markedly increased response to AVR3a. Remarkably, I2(I141N) conferred partial resistance to P. infestans. Further, I2(I141N) has an expanded response spectrum to F. oxysporum f. sp. lycopersici effectors compared with the wild-type I2 protein. Our results suggest that synthetic immune receptors can be engineered to confer resistance to phylogenetically divergent pathogens and indicate that knowledge gathered for one NLR could be exploited to improve NLR from other plant species.

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