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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1995 May 9;92(10):4189-96.

Use of Arabidopsis thaliana defense-related mutants to dissect the plant response to pathogens.

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Department of Genetics, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA.


The plant defense response to microbial pathogens had been studied primarily by using biochemical and physiological techniques. Recently, several laboratories have developed a variety of pathosystems utilizing Arabidopsis thaliana as a model host so that genetic analysis could also be used to study plant defense responses. Utilizing a pathosystem that involves the infection of Arabidopsis with pathogenic pseudomonads, we have cloned the Arabidopsis disease-resistance gene RPS2, which corresponds to the avirulence gene avrRpt2 in a gene-for-gene relationship. RPS2 encodes a 105-kDa protein containing a leucine zipper, a nucleotide binding site, and 14 imperfect leucine-rich repeats. The RPS2 protein is remarkably similar to the product of the tobacco N gene, which confers resistance to tobacco mosaic virus. We have also isolated a series of Arabidopsis mutants that synthesize decreased levels of an Arabidopsis phytoalexin called camalexin. Analysis of these mutants indicated that camalexin does not play a significant role in limiting growth of avirulent Pseudomonas syringae strains during the hypersensitive defense response but that it may play a role in limiting the growth of virulent strains. More generally, we have shown that we can utilize Arabidopsis to systematically dissect the defense response by isolation and characterization of appropriate defense-related mutants.

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