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Involvement of the Small GTPase Rac in the Defense Responses of Tobacco to Pathogens

February 2005 , Volume 18 , Number  2
Pages  116 - 124

Wolfgang Moeder , 1 , 2 Keiko Yoshioka , 1 , 2 and Daniel F. Klessig 1

1Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research, Tower Rd, Ithaca, NY 14850, U.S.A.; 2Department of Botany, University of Toronto, 25 Willcocks St., Toronto, ON M5S 3B2, Canada

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Accepted 8 October 2004.

During the hypersensitive response (HR), plants accumulate reactive oxygen species (ROS) that are likely generated at least in part by an NADPH oxidase similar to that found in mammalian neutrophils. An essential regulator of mammalian NADPH oxidase is the small GTP-binding protein Rac. To investigate whether Rac also regulates the pathogen-induced oxidative burst in plants, a dominant negative form of the rice OsRac1 gene was overexpressed in tobacco carrying the N resistance gene. Following infection with Tobacco mosaic virus (TMV), DN-OsRac1 plants developed smaller lesions than wild-type plants, accumulated lower levels of lipid peroxidation products, and failed to activate expression of antioxidant genes. These results, combined with the demonstration that superoxide and hydrogen peroxide levels were reduced in DN-OsRac1 tobacco developing a synchronous HR triggered by transient expression of the TMV p50 helicase domain or the Pto and AvrPto proteins, suggest that ROS production is impaired. The dominant negative effect of DN-OsRac1 could be rescued by transiently overexpressing the wild-type OsRac1 protein. TMV-induced salicylic acid accumulation also was compromised in DN-OsRac1 tobacco. Interestingly, while systemic acquired resistance to TMV was not impaired, nonhost resistance to Pseudomonas syringae pv. maculicola ES4326 was suppressed. Thus, the effect DN-OsRac1 expression exerts on the resistance signaling pathway appears to vary depending on the identity of the inoculated pathogen.

© 2005 The American Phytopathological Society