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Overexpression of a Rice NPR1 Homolog Leads to Constitutive Activation of Defense Response and Hypersensitivity to Light

June 2005 , Volume 18 , Number  6
Pages  511 - 520

Mawsheng Chern , 1 Heather A. Fitzgerald , 1 Patrick E. Canlas , 1 Duroy A. Navarre , 2 and Pamela C. Ronald 1

1Department of Plant Pathology, University of California, Davis 95616, U.S.A.; 2United States Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service, Prosser, WA 99350, U.S.A.

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Accepted 10 January 2005.

Arabidopsis NPR1/NIM1 is a key regulator of systemic acquired resistance (SAR), which confers lasting broad-spectrum resistance. Previous reports indicate that rice has a disease-resistance pathway similar to the Arabidopsis SAR pathway. Here we report the isolation and characterization of a rice NPR1 homologue (NH1). Transgenic rice plants overexpressing NH1 (NH1ox) acquire high levels of resistance to Xanthomonas oryzae pv. oryzae. The resistance phenotype is heritable and correlates with the presence of the transgene and reduced bacterial growth. Northern analysis shows that NH1ox rice spontaneously activates defense genes, contrasting with NPR1-overexpressing Arabidopsis, where defense genes are not activated until induction. Wild-type NH1, but not a point mutant corresponding to npr1-1, interacts strongly with the rice transcription factor rTGA2.2 in yeast two-hybrid. Greenhouse-grown NH1ox plants develop lesion-mimic spots on leaves at preflowering stage although no other developmental effects are observed. However, when grown in growth chambers (GCs) under low light, NH1ox plants are dwarfed, indicating elevated sensitivity to light. The GC-grown NH1ox plants show much higher salicylic acid (SA) levels than the wild type, whereas greenhouse-grown NH1ox plants contain lower SA. These results indicate that NH1 may be involved in the regulation of SA in response to environmental changes.

© 2005 The American Phytopathological Society