BAX inhibitor-1 (BI-1) proteins have been characterized as suppressors of programmed cell death in mammals and plants. The barley BI-1 is a suppressor of nonspecific background resistance and mlo-mediated penetration resistance to the biotrophic fungal pathogen Blumeria graminis f. sp. hordei when overexpressed in epidermal cells of barley. We report here that BI-1 expression is also slightly up-regulated during interaction with the inappropriate wheat pathogen Blumeria graminis f. sp. tritici. Significantly, over-expression of BI-1 in single epidermal cells of barley by microprojectile-mediated transformation rendered cells susceptible to penetration by inappropriate B. graminis f. sp. tritici. The degree of transgene-induced accessibility to B. graminis f. sp. tritici was thereby similar to the effect achieved by overexpression of the defense suppressor gene Mlo and could not be further enhanced by double expression of both BI-1 and Mlo. Confocal laser scanning microscopy was used to locate a functional green fluorescing GFP:BI-1 fusion protein in endomembranes and the nuclear envelope of barley epidermal cells. Together, enhanced expression of barley BI-1 suppresses penetration resistance to B. graminis f. sp. tritici, linking barley nonhost resistance with cell death regulation.
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