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Antonie Van Leeuwenhoek. 1997 Feb;71(1-2):137-41.

Molecular and biochemical basis of the interaction between tomato and its fungal pathogen Cladosporium fulvum.

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  • 1Department of Phytopathology, Wageningen Agricultural University, The Netherlands.


The interaction between the biotrophic fungal pathogen Cladosporium fulvum and tomato complies with the gene-for-gene model. Resistance, expressed as a hypersensitive response (HR) followed by other defence responses, is based on recognition of products of avirulence genes from C. fulvum (race-specific elicitors) by receptors (putative products of resistance genes) in the host plant tomato. The AVR9 elicitor is a 28 amino acid (aa) peptide and the AVR4 elicitor a 106 aa peptide which both induce HR in tomato plants carrying the complementary resistance genes Cf9 and Cf4, respectively. The 3-D structure of the AVR9 peptide, as determined by 1H NMR, revealed that AVR9 belongs to a family of peptides with a cystine knot motif. This motif occurs in channel blockers, peptidase inhibitors and growth factors. The Cf9 resistance gene encodes a membrane-anchored extracellular glycoprotein which contains leucine-rich repeats (LRRs). 125I labeled AVR9 peptide shows the same affinity for plasma membranes of Cf9+ and Cf9- tomato leaves. Membranes of solanaceous plants tested so far all contain homologs of the Cf9 gene and show similar affinities for AVR9. It is assumed that for induction of HR, at least two plant proteins (presumably CF9 and one of his homologs) interact directly or indirectly with the AVR9 peptide which possibly initiates modulation and dimerisation of the receptor, and activation of various other proteins involved in downstream events eventually leading to HR. We have created several mutants of the Avr9 gene, expressed them in the potato virus X (PVX) expression system and tested their biological activity on Cf9 genotypes of tomato. A positive correlation was observed between the biological activity of the mutant AVR9 peptides and their affinity for tomato plasma membranes. Recent results on structure and biological activity of AVR4 peptides encoded by avirulent and virulent alleles of the Avr4 gene (based on expression studies in PVX) are also discussed as well as early defence responses induced by elicitors in tomato leaves and tomato cell suspensions.

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