Functional characterization of a convergent host target of divergent pathogen effectors
Interactions between pathogenic microorganisms and their plant hosts are complex and dynamic. Pathogens deliver effector proteins (virulence factors) into plant cells to dampen basal defense and modulate host cellular activity. Direct or indirect recognition of these effectors by polymorphic intracellular plant proteins triggers a successful immune response. PPIN-1, a Plant Pathogen Immune Network of oomycete and Pseudomonas effectors and Arabidopsis proteins recently defined in the host laboratory, demonstrates that evolutionarily divergent effectors converge onto a limited set of interconnected host proteins. TCP transcription factors, especially TCP14, are among the most common targets of these effectors, and the host proteins interacting with TCPs are highly interconnected. A better understanding of how TCP proteins serve to modulate the plant immune system will shed light on co-evolutionary arms race between plants and their pathogens. I will use genetic, computational and biochemical tools to dissect the functions of several TCP genes in the plant immune system.
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