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Mol Plant Pathol. 2017 Oct;18(8):1062-1074. doi: 10.1111/mpp.12460. Epub 2016 Sep 1.

Pathogen-induced ERF68 regulates hypersensitive cell death in tomato.

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Graduate Institute of Plant Biology, National Taiwan University, Taipei, 10617, Taiwan.
Department of Life Science, College of Life Science, National Taiwan University, Taipei, 10617, Taiwan.


Ethylene response factors (ERFs) are a large plant-specific transcription factor family and play diverse important roles in various plant functions. However, most tomato ERFs have not been characterized. In this study, we showed that the expression of an uncharacterized member of the tomato ERF-IX subgroup, ERF68, was significantly induced by treatments with different bacterial pathogens, ethylene (ET) and salicylic acid (SA), but only slightly induced by bacterial mutants defective in the type III secretion system (T3SS) or non-host pathogens. The ERF68-green fluorescent protein (ERF68-GFP) fusion protein was localized in the nucleus. Transactivation and electrophoretic mobility shift assays (EMSAs) further showed that ERF68 was a functional transcriptional activator and was bound to the GCC-box. Moreover, transient overexpression of ERF68 led to spontaneous lesions in tomato and tobacco leaves and enhanced the expression of genes involved in ET, SA, jasmonic acid (JA) and hypersensitive response (HR) pathways, whereas silencing of ERF68 increased tomato susceptibility to two incompatible Xanthomonas spp. These results reveal the involvement of ERF68 in the effector-triggered immunity (ETI) pathway. To identify ERF68 target genes, chromatin immunoprecipitation combined with high-throughput sequencing (ChIP-seq) was performed. Amongst the confirmed target genes, a few genes involved in cell death or disease defence were differentially regulated by ERF68. Our study demonstrates the function of ERF68 in the positive regulation of hypersensitive cell death and disease defence by modulation of multiple signalling pathways, and provides important new information on the complex regulatory function of ERFs.


ERF; cell death; defence; disease; tomato

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