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1.  Leucine-Rich Repeat (LRR) Domains Containing Intervening Motifs in Plants 
Biomolecules  2012;2(2):288-311.
LRRs (leucine rich repeats) are present in over 14,000 proteins. Non-LRR, island regions (IRs) interrupting LRRs are widely distributed. The present article reviews 19 families of LRR proteins having non-LRR IRs (LRR@IR proteins) from various plant species. The LRR@IR proteins are LRR-containing receptor-like kinases (LRR-RLKs), LRR-containing receptor-like proteins (LRR-RLPs), TONSOKU/BRUSHY1, and MJK13.7; the LRR-RLKs are homologs of TMK1/Rhg4, BRI1, PSKR, PSYR1, Arabidopsis At1g74360, and RPK2, while the LRR-RLPs are those of Cf-9/Cf-4, Cf-2/Cf-5, Ve, HcrVf, RPP27, EIX1, clavata 2, fascinated ear2, RLP2, rice Os10g0479700, and putative soybean disease resistance protein. The LRRs are intersected by single, non-LRR IRs; only the RPK2 homologs have two IRs. In most of the LRR-RLKs and LRR-RLPs, the number of repeat units in the preceding LRR block (N1) is greater than the number of the following block (N2); N1 » N2 in which N1 is variable in the homologs of individual families, while N2 is highly conserved. The five families of the LRR-RLKs except for the RPK2 family show N1 = 8 − 18 and N2 = 3 − 5. The nine families of the LRR-RLPs show N1 = 12 − 33 and N2 = 4; while N1 = 6 and N2 = 4 for the rice Os10g0479700 family and the N1 = 4 − 28 and N2 = 4 for the soybean protein family. The rule of N1 » N2 might play a common, significant role in ligand interaction, dimerization, and/or signal transduction of the LRR-RLKs and the LRR-RLPs. The structure and evolution of the LRR domains with non-LRR IRs and their proteins are also discussed.
doi:10.3390/biom2020288
PMCID: PMC4030839  PMID: 24970139
leucine-rich repeats; Non-LRR island; LRR-RLK; LRR-RLP; TMK1; Os10g0479700; TONSOKU/BRUSHY1; MJK13.7; ligand interaction; dimerization
2.  Species-specific duplications driving the recent expansion of NBS-LRR genes in five Rosaceae species 
BMC Genomics  2015;16(1):77.
Background
Disease resistance (R) genes from different Rosaceae species have been identified by map-based cloning for resistance breeding. However, there are few reports describing the pattern of R-gene evolution in Rosaceae species because several Rosaceae genome sequences have only recently become available.
Results
Since most disease resistance genes encode NBS-LRR proteins, we performed a systematic genome-wide survey of NBS-LRR genes between five Rosaceae species, namely Fragaria vesca (strawberry), Malus × domestica (apple), Pyrus bretschneideri (pear), Prunus persica (peach) and Prunus mume (mei) which contained 144, 748, 469, 354 and 352 NBS-LRR genes, respectively. A high proportion of multi-genes and similar Ks peaks (Ks = 0.1- 0.2) of gene families in the four woody genomes were detected. A total of 385 species-specific duplicate clades were observed in the phylogenetic tree constructed using all 2067 NBS-LRR genes. High percentages of NBS-LRR genes derived from species-specific duplication were found among the five genomes (61.81% in strawberry, 66.04% in apple, 48.61% in pear, 37.01% in peach and 40.05% in mei). Furthermore, the Ks and Ka/Ks values of TIR-NBS-LRR genes (TNLs) were significantly greater than those of non-TIR-NBS-LRR genes (non-TNLs), and most of the NBS-LRRs had Ka/Ks ratios less than 1, suggesting that they were evolving under a subfunctionalization model driven by purifying selection.
Conclusions
Our results indicate that recent duplications played an important role in the evolution of NBS-LRR genes in the four woody perennial Rosaceae species. Based on the phylogenetic tree produced, it could be inferred that species-specific duplication has mainly contributed to the expansion of NBS-LRR genes in the five Rosaceae species. In addition, the Ks and Ka/Ks ratios suggest that the rapidly evolved TNLs have different evolutionary patterns to adapt to different pathogens compared with non-TNL resistant genes.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12864-015-1291-0) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s12864-015-1291-0
PMCID: PMC4336698
NBS-LRR genes; Rosaceae species; Disease resistance genes; Species-specific duplication
3.  Nucleotide diversity and linkage disequilibrium in 11 expressed resistance candidate genes in Lolium perenne 
BMC Plant Biology  2007;7:43.
Background
Association analysis is an alternative way for QTL mapping in ryegrass. So far, knowledge on nucleotide diversity and linkage disequilibrium in ryegrass is lacking, which is essential for the efficiency of association analyses.
Results
11 expressed disease resistance candidate (R) genes including 6 nucleotide binding site and leucine rich repeat (NBS-LRR) like genes and 5 non-NBS-LRR genes were analyzed for nucleotide diversity. For each of the genes about 1 kb genomic fragments were isolated from 20 heterozygous genotypes in ryegrass. The number of haplotypes per gene ranged from 9 to 27. On average, one single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) was present per 33 bp between two randomly sampled sequences for the 11 genes. NBS-LRR like gene fragments showed a high degree of nucleotide diversity, with one SNP every 22 bp between two randomly sampled sequences. NBS-LRR like gene fragments showed very high non-synonymous mutation rates, leading to altered amino acid sequences. Particularly LRR regions showed very high diversity with on average one SNP every 10 bp between two sequences. In contrast, non-NBS LRR resistance candidate genes showed a lower degree of nucleotide diversity, with one SNP every 112 bp. 78% of haplotypes occurred at low frequency (<5%) within the collection of 20 genotypes. Low intragenic LD was detected for most R genes, and rapid LD decay within 500 bp was detected.
Conclusion
Substantial LD decay was found within a distance of 500 bp for most resistance candidate genes in this study. Hence, LD based association analysis is feasible and promising for QTL fine mapping of resistance traits in ryegrass.
doi:10.1186/1471-2229-7-43
PMCID: PMC1978496  PMID: 17683574
4.  Genome-Wide Identification and Expression Analysis of NBS-Encoding Genes in Malus x domestica and Expansion of NBS Genes Family in Rosaceae 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(9):e107987.
Nucleotide binding site leucine-rich repeats (NBS-LRR) disease resistance proteins play an important role in plant defense against pathogen attack. A number of recent studies have been carried out to identify and characterize NBS-LRR gene families in many important plant species. In this study, we identified NBS-LRR gene family comprising of 1015 NBS-LRRs using highly stringent computational methods. These NBS-LRRs were characterized on the basis of conserved protein motifs, gene duplication events, chromosomal locations, phylogenetic relationships and digital gene expression analysis. Surprisingly, equal distribution of Toll/interleukin-1 receptor (TIR) and coiled coil (CC) (1∶1) was detected in apple while the unequal distribution was reported in majority of all other known plant genome studies. Prediction of gene duplication events intriguingly revealed that not only tandem duplication but also segmental duplication may equally be responsible for the expansion of the apple NBS-LRR gene family. Gene expression profiling using expressed sequence tags database of apple and quantitative real-time PCR (qRT-PCR) revealed the expression of these genes in wide range of tissues and disease conditions, respectively. Taken together, this study will provide a blueprint for future efforts towards improvement of disease resistance in apple.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0107987
PMCID: PMC4169499  PMID: 25232838
5.  Comparative sequence analysis of leucine-rich repeats (LRRs) within vertebrate toll-like receptors 
BMC Genomics  2007;8:124.
Background
Toll-like receptors (TLRs) play a central role in innate immunity. TLRs are membrane glycoproteins and contain leucine rich repeat (LRR) motif in the ectodomain. TLRs recognize and respond to molecules such as lipopolysaccharide, peptidoglycan, flagellin, and RNA from bacteria or viruses. The LRR domains in TLRs have been inferred to be responsible for molecular recognition. All LRRs include the highly conserved segment, LxxLxLxxNxL, in which "L" is Leu, Ile, Val, or Phe and "N" is Asn, Thr, Ser, or Cys and "x" is any amino acid. There are seven classes of LRRs including "typical" ("T") and "bacterial" ("S"). All known domain structures adopt an arc or horseshoe shape. Vertebrate TLRs form six major families. The repeat numbers of LRRs and their "phasing" in TLRs differ with isoforms and species; they are aligned differently in various databases. We identified and aligned LRRs in TLRs by a new method described here.
Results
The new method utilizes known LRR structures to recognize and align new LRR motifs in TLRs and incorporates multiple sequence alignments and secondary structure predictions. TLRs from thirty-four vertebrate were analyzed. The repeat numbers of the LRRs ranges from 16 to 28. The LRRs found in TLRs frequently consists of LxxLxLxxNxLxxLxxxxF/LxxLxx ("T") and sometimes short motifs including LxxLxLxxNxLxxLPx(x)LPxx ("S"). The TLR7 family (TLR7, TLR8, and TLR9) contain 27 LRRs. The LRRs at the N-terminal part have a super-motif of STT with about 80 residues. The super-repeat is represented by STTSTTSTT or _TTSTTSTT. The LRRs in TLRs form one or two horseshoe domains and are mostly flanked by two cysteine clusters including two or four cysteine residue.
Conclusion
Each of the six major TLR families is characterized by their constituent LRR motifs, their repeat numbers, and their patterns of cysteine clusters. The central parts of the TLR1 and TLR7 families and of TLR4 have more irregular or longer LRR motifs. These central parts are inferred to play a key role in the structure and/or function of their TLRs. Furthermore, the super-repeat in the TLR7 family suggests strongly that "bacterial" and "typical" LRRs evolved from a common precursor.
doi:10.1186/1471-2164-8-124
PMCID: PMC1899181  PMID: 17517123
6.  Specific Missense Alleles of the Arabidopsis Jasmonic Acid Co-Receptor COI1 Regulate Innate Immune Receptor Accumulation and Function 
PLoS Genetics  2012;8(10):e1003018.
Plants utilize proteins containing nucleotide binding site (NB) and leucine-rich repeat (LRR) domains as intracellular innate immune receptors to recognize pathogens and initiate defense responses. Since mis-activation of defense responses can lead to tissue damage and even developmental arrest, proper regulation of NB–LRR protein signaling is critical. RAR1, SGT1, and HSP90 act as regulatory chaperones of pre-activation NB–LRR steady-state proteins. We extended our analysis of mutants derived from a rar1 suppressor screen and present two allelic rar1 suppressor (rsp) mutations of Arabidopsis COI1. Like all other coi1 mutations, coi1rsp missense mutations impair Jasmonic Acid (JA) signaling resulting in JA–insensitivity. However, unlike previously identified coi1 alleles, both coi1rsp alleles lack a male sterile phenotype. The coi1rsp mutants express two sets of disease resistance phenotypes. The first, also observed in coi1-1 null allele, includes enhanced basal defense against the virulent bacterial pathogen Pto DC3000 and enhanced effector-triggered immunity (ETI) mediated by the NB–LRR RPM1 protein in both rar1 and wild-type backgrounds. These enhanced disease resistance phenotypes depend on the JA signaling function of COI1. Additionally, the coi1rsp mutants showed a unique inability to properly regulate RPM1 accumulation and HR, exhibited increased RPM1 levels in rar1, and weakened RPM1-mediated HR in RAR1. Importantly, there was no change in the steady-state levels or HR function of RPM1 in coi1-1. These results suggest that the coi1rsp proteins regulate NB–LRR protein accumulation independent of JA signaling. Based on the phenotypic similarities and genetic interactions among coi1rsp, sgt1b, and hsp90.2rsp mutants, our data suggest that COI1 affects NB–LRR accumulation via two NB–LRR co-chaperones, SGT1b and HSP90. Together, our data demonstrate a role for COI1 in disease resistance independent of JA signaling and provide a molecular link between the JA and NB–LRR signaling pathways.
Author Summary
To detect pathogen attack and subsequently trigger defense responses, plants utilize immune receptors composed of a nucleotide binding site (NB) domain and a C-terminal leucine-rich repeat (LRR) domain that function inside the cell. To identify regulators of NB–LRR protein accumulation and activity, we performed a genetic screen in the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana to isolate mutants that affect NB–LRR protein accumulation levels and NB–LRR triggered disease resistance. Here, we introduce two mutant alleles of COI1, a gene which encodes a well-characterized receptor for the phytohormone Jasmonic Acid (JA). It is widely accepted that COI1 is involved in JA signaling-dependent disease resistance. However, our new coi1 mutants affected NB–LRR accumulation in a manner independent of the JA signaling pathway. This indicated that not all disease resistance effects of COI1 require JA signaling. We also observed a link between COI1 and the RAR1-SGT1b-HSP90 co-chaperone complex, which plays a critical role in regulation of NB–LRR protein accumulations.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1003018
PMCID: PMC3475666  PMID: 23093946
7.  Defining the full tomato NB-LRR resistance gene repertoire using genomic and cDNA RenSeq 
BMC Plant Biology  2014;14:120.
Background
The availability of draft crop plant genomes allows the prediction of the full complement of genes that encode NB-LRR resistance gene homologs, enabling a more targeted breeding for disease resistance. Recently, we developed the RenSeq method to reannotate the full NB-LRR gene complement in potato and to identify novel sequences that were not picked up by the automated gene prediction software. Here, we established RenSeq on the reference genome of tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) Heinz 1706, using 260 previously identified NB-LRR genes in an updated Solanaceae RenSeq bait library.
Result
Using 250-bp MiSeq reads after RenSeq on genomic DNA of Heinz 1706, we identified 105 novel NB-LRR sequences. Reannotation included the splitting of gene models, combination of partial genes to a longer sequence and closing of assembly gaps. Within the draft S. pimpinellifolium LA1589 genome, RenSeq enabled the annotation of 355 NB-LRR genes. The majority of these are however fragmented, with 5′- and 3′-end located on the edges of separate contigs. Phylogenetic analyses show a high conservation of all NB-LRR classes between Heinz 1706, LA1589 and the potato clone DM, suggesting that all sub-families were already present in the last common ancestor. A phylogenetic comparison to the Arabidopsis thaliana NB-LRR complement verifies the high conservation of the more ancient CCRPW8-type NB-LRRs. Use of RenSeq on cDNA from uninfected and late blight-infected tomato leaves allows the avoidance of sequence analysis of non-expressed paralogues.
Conclusion
RenSeq is a promising method to facilitate analysis of plant resistance gene complements. The reannotated tomato NB-LRR complements, phylogenetic relationships and chromosomal locations provided in this paper will provide breeders and scientists with a useful tool to identify novel disease resistance traits. cDNA RenSeq enables for the first time next-gen sequencing approaches targeted to this very low-expressed gene family without the need for normalization.
doi:10.1186/1471-2229-14-120
PMCID: PMC4036795  PMID: 24885638
RenSeq; NB-LRR; cDNA; Gene model; Disease resistance; Paralogous; Plant breeding; Solanum lycopersicum; Solanum pimpinellifolium; Arabidopsis thaliana
8.  Analyses of six homologous proteins of Protochlamydia amoebophila UWE25 encoded by large GC-rich genes (lgr): a model of evolution and concatenation of leucine-rich repeats 
Background
Along the chromosome of the obligate intracellular bacteria Protochlamydia amoebophila UWE25, we recently described a genomic island Pam100G. It contains a tra unit likely involved in conjugative DNA transfer and lgrE, a 5.6-kb gene similar to five others of P. amoebophila: lgrA to lgrD, lgrF. We describe here the structure, regulation and evolution of these proteins termed LGRs since encoded by "Large G+C-Rich" genes.
Results
No homologs to the whole protein sequence of LGRs were found in other organisms. Phylogenetic analyses suggest that serial duplications producing the six LGRs occurred relatively recently and nucleotide usage analyses show that lgrB, lgrE and lgrF were relocated on the chromosome. The C-terminal part of LGRs is homologous to Leucine-Rich Repeats domains (LRRs). Defined by a cumulative alignment score, the 5 to 18 concatenated octacosapeptidic (28-meric) LRRs of LGRs present all a predicted α-helix conformation. Their closest homologs are the 28-residue RI-like LRRs of mammalian NODs and the 24-meres of some Ralstonia and Legionella proteins. Interestingly, lgrE, which is present on Pam100G like the tra operon, exhibits Pfam domains related to DNA metabolism.
Conclusion
Comparison of the LRRs, enable us to propose a parsimonious evolutionary scenario of these domains driven by adjacent concatenations of LRRs. Our model established on bacterial LRRs can be challenged in eucaryotic proteins carrying less conserved LRRs, such as NOD proteins and Toll-like receptors.
doi:10.1186/1471-2148-7-231
PMCID: PMC2216083  PMID: 18021397
9.  Leucine-rich repeat (LRR) proteins 
Autophagy  2011;7(9):1082-1084.
The leucine-rich repeats (LRR)-containing domain is evolutionarily conserved in many proteins associated with innate immunity in plants, invertebrates and vertebrates. Serving as a first line of defense, the innate immune response is initiated through the sensing of pathogen-associated molecular patterns (PAMPs). In plants, NBS (nucleotide-binding site)-LRR proteins provide recognition of pathogen products of avirulence (AVR) genes. LRRs also promote interaction between LRR proteins as observed in receptor-coreceptor complexes. In mammals, toll-like receptors (TLRs) and NOD-like receptors (NLRs) through their LRR domain, sense molecular determinants from a structurally diverse set of bacterial, fungal, parasite and viral-derived components. In humans, at least 34 LRR proteins are implicated in diseases. Most LRR domains consist of 2–45 leucine-rich repeats, with each repeat about 20–30 residues long. Structurally, LRR domains adopt an arc or horseshoe shape, with the concave face consisting of parallel β-strands and the convex face representing a more variable region of secondary structures including helices. Apart from the TLRs and NLRs, most of the 375 human LRR proteins remain uncharacterized functionally. We incorporated computational and functional analyses to facilitate multifaceted insights into human LRR proteins and outline a few approaches here.
doi:10.4161/auto.7.9.16464
PMCID: PMC3901792  PMID: 21606681
systems biology; pathogen sensors; pathogen response; antibacterial; inflammation; autophagy; bioinformatics; computational biology
10.  The powdery mildew resistance gene REN1 co-segregates with an NBS-LRR gene cluster in two Central Asian grapevines 
BMC Genetics  2009;10:89.
Background
Grape powdery mildew is caused by the North American native pathogen Erysiphe necator. Eurasian Vitis vinifera varieties were all believed to be susceptible. REN1 is the first resistance gene naturally found in cultivated plants of Vitis vinifera.
Results
REN1 is present in 'Kishmish vatkana' and 'Dzhandzhal kara', two grapevines documented in Central Asia since the 1920's. These cultivars have a second-degree relationship (half sibs, grandparent-grandchild, or avuncular), and share by descent the chromosome on which the resistance allele REN1 is located. The REN1 interval was restricted to 1.4 cM using 38 SSR markers distributed across the locus and the segregation of the resistance phenotype in two progenies of collectively 461 offspring, derived from either resistant parent. The boundary markers delimit a 1.4-Mbp sequence in the PN40024 reference genome, which contains 27 genes with known functions, 2 full-length coiled-coil NBS-LRR genes, and 9 NBS-LRR pseudogenes. In the REN1 locus of PN40024, NBS genes have proliferated through a mixture of segmental duplications, tandem gene duplications, and intragenic recombination between paralogues, indicating that the REN1 locus has been inherently prone to producing genetic variation. Three SSR markers co-segregate with REN1, the outer ones confining the 908-kb array of NBS-LRR genes. Kinship and clustering analyses based on genetic distances with susceptible cultivars representative of Central Asian Vitis vinifera indicated that 'Kishmish vatkana' and 'Dzhandzhal kara' fit well into local germplasm. 'Kishmish vatkana' also has a parent-offspring relationship with the seedless table grape 'Sultanina'. In addition, the distant genetic relatedness to rootstocks, some of which are derived from North American species resistant to powdery mildew and have been used worldwide to guard against phylloxera since the late 1800's, argues against REN1 being infused into Vitis vinifera from a recent interspecific hybridisation.
Conclusion
The REN1 gene resides in an NBS-LRR gene cluster tightly delimited by two flanking SSR markers, which can assist in the selection of this DNA block in breeding between Vitis vinifera cultivars. The REN1 locus has multiple layers of structural complexity compared with its two closely related paralogous NBS clusters, which are located some 5 Mbp upstream and 4 Mbp downstream of the REN1 interval on the same chromosome.
doi:10.1186/1471-2156-10-89
PMCID: PMC2814809  PMID: 20042081
11.  Global expression analysis of nucleotide binding site-leucine rich repeat-encoding and related genes in Arabidopsis 
BMC Plant Biology  2007;7:56.
Background
Nucleotide binding site-leucine rich repeat (NBS-LRR)-encoding genes comprise the largest class of plant disease resistance genes. The 149 NBS-LRR-encoding genes and the 58 related genes that do not encode LRRs represent approximately 0.8% of all ORFs so far annotated in Arabidopsis ecotype Col-0. Despite their prevalence in the genome and functional importance, there was little information regarding expression of these genes.
Results
We analyzed the expression patterns of ~170 NBS-LRR-encoding and related genes in Arabidopsis Col-0 using multiple analytical approaches: expressed sequenced tag (EST) representation, massively parallel signature sequencing (MPSS), microarray analysis, rapid amplification of cDNA ends (RACE) PCR, and gene trap lines. Most of these genes were expressed at low levels with a variety of tissue specificities. Expression was detected by at least one approach for all but 10 of these genes. The expression of some but not the majority of NBS-LRR-encoding and related genes was affected by salicylic acid (SA) treatment; the response to SA varied among different accessions. An analysis of previously published microarray data indicated that ten NBS-LRR-encoding and related genes exhibited increased expression in wild-type Landsberg erecta (Ler) after flagellin treatment. Several of these ten genes also showed altered expression after SA treatment, consistent with the regulation of R gene expression during defense responses and overlap between the basal defense response and salicylic acid signaling pathways. Enhancer trap analysis indicated that neither jasmonic acid nor benzothiadiazole (BTH), a salicylic acid analog, induced detectable expression of the five NBS-LRR-encoding genes and one TIR-NBS-encoding gene tested; however, BTH did induce detectable expression of the other TIR-NBS-encoding gene analyzed. Evidence for alternative mRNA polyadenylation sites was observed for many of the tested genes. Evidence for alternative splicing was found for at least 12 genes, 11 of which encode TIR-NBS-LRR proteins. There was no obvious correlation between expression pattern, phylogenetic relationship or genomic location of the NBS-LRR-encoding and related genes studied.
Conclusion
Transcripts of many NBS-LRR-encoding and related genes were defined. Most were present at low levels and exhibited tissue-specific expression patterns. Expression data are consistent with most Arabidopsis NBS-LRR-encoding and related genes functioning in plant defense responses but do not preclude other biological roles.
doi:10.1186/1471-2229-7-56
PMCID: PMC2175511  PMID: 17956627
12.  The pgip family in soybean and three other legume species: evidence for a birth-and-death model of evolution 
BMC Plant Biology  2014;14:189.
Background
Polygalacturonase-inhibiting proteins (PGIPs) are leucine-rich repeat (LRR) plant cell wall glycoproteins involved in plant immunity. They are typically encoded by gene families with a small number of gene copies whose evolutionary origin has been poorly investigated. Here we report the complete characterization of the full complement of the pgip family in soybean (Glycine max [L.] Merr.) and the characterization of the genomic region surrounding the pgip family in four legume species.
Results
BAC clone and genome sequence analyses showed that the soybean genome contains two pgip loci. Each locus is composed of three clustered genes that are induced following infection with the fungal pathogen Sclerotinia sclerotiorum (Lib.) de Bary, and remnant sequences of pgip genes. The analyzed homeologous soybean genomic regions (about 126 Kb) that include the pgip loci are strongly conserved and this conservation extends also to the genomes of the legume species Phaseolus vulgaris L., Medicago truncatula Gaertn. and Cicer arietinum L., each containing a single pgip locus. Maximum likelihood-based gene trees suggest that the genes within the pgip clusters have independently undergone tandem duplication in each species.
Conclusions
The paleopolyploid soybean genome contains two pgip loci comprised in large and highly conserved duplicated regions, which are also conserved in bean, M. truncatula and C. arietinum. The genomic features of these legume pgip families suggest that the forces driving the evolution of pgip genes follow the birth-and-death model, similar to that proposed for the evolution of resistance (R) genes of NBS-LRR-type.
doi:10.1186/s12870-014-0189-3
PMCID: PMC4115169  PMID: 25034494
13.  Functional Analysis of the Tomato Immune Receptor Ve1 through Domain Swaps with Its Non-Functional Homolog Ve2 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e88208.
Resistance in tomato against race 1 strains of the fungal vascular wilt pathogens Verticillium dahliae and V. albo-atrum is mediated by the Ve locus. This locus comprises two closely linked inversely oriented genes, Ve1 and Ve2, which encode cell surface receptors of the extracellular leucine-rich repeat receptor-like protein (eLRR-RLP) type. While Ve1 mediates Verticillium resistance through monitoring the presence of the recently identified V. dahliae Ave1 effector, no functionality for Ve2 has been demonstrated in tomato. Ve1 and Ve2 contain 37 eLRRs and share 84% amino acid identity, facilitating investigation of Ve protein functionality through domain swapping. In this study it is shown that Ve chimeras in which the first thirty eLRRs of Ve1 were replaced by those of Ve2 remain able to induce HR and activate Verticillium resistance, and that deletion of these thirty eLRRs from Ve1 resulted in loss of functionality. Also the region between eLRR30 and eLRR35 is required for Ve1-mediated resistance, and cannot be replaced by the region between eLRR30 and eLRR35 of Ve2. We furthermore show that the cytoplasmic tail of Ve1 is required for functionality, as truncation of this tail results in loss of functionality. Moreover, the C-terminus of Ve2 fails to activate immune signaling as chimeras containing the C-terminus of Ve2 do not provide Verticillium resistance. Furthermore, Ve1 was found to interact through its C-terminus with the eLRR-containing receptor-like kinase (eLRR-RLK) interactor SOBIR1 that was recently identified as an interactor of eLRR-RLP (immune) receptors. Intriguingly, also Ve2 was found to interact with SOBIR1.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0088208
PMCID: PMC3914901  PMID: 24505431
14.  Sequence-structure-function relations of the mosquito leucine-rich repeat immune proteins 
BMC Genomics  2010;11:531.
Background
The discovery and characterisation of factors governing innate immune responses in insects has driven the elucidation of many immune system components in mammals and other organisms. Focusing on the immune system responses of the malaria mosquito, Anopheles gambiae, has uncovered an array of components and mechanisms involved in defence against pathogen infections. Two of these immune factors are LRIM1 and APL1C, which are leucine-rich repeat (LRR) containing proteins that activate complement-like defence responses against malaria parasites. In addition to their LRR domains, these leucine-rich repeat immune (LRIM) proteins share several structural features including signal peptides, patterns of cysteine residues, and coiled-coil domains.
Results
The identification and characterisation of genes related to LRIM1 and APL1C revealed putatively novel innate immune factors and furthered the understanding of their likely molecular functions. Genomic scans using the shared features of LRIM1 and APL1C identified more than 20 LRIM-like genes exhibiting all or most of their sequence features in each of three disease-vector mosquitoes with sequenced genomes: An. gambiae, Aedes aegypti, and Culex quinquefasciatus. Comparative sequence analyses revealed that this family of mosquito LRIM-like genes is characterised by a variable number of 6 to 14 LRRs of different lengths. The "Long" LRIM subfamily, with 10 or more LRRs, and the "Short" LRIMs, with 6 or 7 LRRs, also share the signal peptide, cysteine residue patterning, and coiled-coil sequence features of LRIM1 and APL1C. The "TM" LRIMs have a predicted C-terminal transmembrane region, and the "Coil-less" LRIMs exhibit the characteristic LRIM sequence signatures but lack the C-terminal coiled-coil domains.
Conclusions
The evolutionary plasticity of the LRIM LRR domains may provide templates for diverse recognition properties, while their coiled-coil domains could be involved in the formation of LRIM protein complexes or mediate interactions with other immune proteins. The conserved LRIM cysteine residue patterns are likely to be important for structural fold stability and the formation of protein complexes. These sequence-structure-function relations of mosquito LRIMs will serve to guide the experimental elucidation of their molecular roles in mosquito immunity.
doi:10.1186/1471-2164-11-531
PMCID: PMC3020904  PMID: 20920294
15.  Loss and retention of resistance genes in five species of the Brassicaceae family 
BMC Plant Biology  2014;14(1):298.
Background
Plants have evolved disease resistance (R) genes encoding for nucleotide-binding site (NB) and leucine-rich repeat (LRR) proteins with N-terminals represented by either Toll/Interleukin-1 receptor (TIR) or coiled-coil (CC) domains. Here, a genome-wide study of presence and diversification of CC-NB-LRR and TIR-NB-LRR encoding genes, and shorter domain combinations in 19 Arabidopsis thaliana accessions and Arabidopsis lyrata, Capsella rubella, Brassica rapa and Eutrema salsugineum are presented.
Results
Out of 528 R genes analyzed, 12 CC-NB-LRR and 17 TIR-NB-LRR genes were conserved among the 19 A. thaliana genotypes, while only two CC-NB-LRRs, including ZAR1, and three TIR-NB-LRRs were conserved when comparing the five species. The RESISTANCE TO LEPTOSPHAERIA MACULANS 1 (RLM1) locus confers resistance to the Brassica pathogen L. maculans the causal agent of blackleg disease and has undergone conservation and diversification events particularly in B. rapa. On the contrary, the RLM3 locus important in the immune response towards Botrytis cinerea and Alternaria spp. has recently evolved in the Arabidopsis genus.
Conclusion
Our genome-wide analysis of the R gene repertoire revealed a large sequence variation in the 23 cruciferous genomes. The data provides further insights into evolutionary processes impacting this important gene family.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12870-014-0298-z) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s12870-014-0298-z
PMCID: PMC4232680  PMID: 25365911
Arabidopsis thaliana; Brassicaceae; CC/TIR-NB-LRR domains; Genomes; Leptosphaeria maculans; Resistance genes
16.  Identification and localisation of the NB-LRR gene family within the potato genome 
BMC Genomics  2012;13:75.
Background
The potato genome sequence derived from the Solanum tuberosum Group Phureja clone DM1-3 516 R44 provides unparalleled insight into the genome composition and organisation of this important crop. A key class of genes that comprises the vast majority of plant resistance (R) genes contains a nucleotide-binding and leucine-rich repeat domain, and is collectively known as NB-LRRs.
Results
As part of an effort to accelerate the process of functional R gene isolation, we performed an amino acid motif based search of the annotated potato genome and identified 438 NB-LRR type genes among the ~39,000 potato gene models. Of the predicted genes, 77 contain an N-terminal toll/interleukin 1 receptor (TIR)-like domain, and 107 of the remaining 361 non-TIR genes contain an N-terminal coiled-coil (CC) domain. Physical map positions were established for 370 predicted NB-LRR genes across all 12 potato chromosomes. The majority of NB-LRRs are physically organised within 63 identified clusters, of which 50 are homogeneous in that they contain NB-LRRs derived from a recent common ancestor.
Conclusions
By establishing the phylogenetic and positional relationship of potato NB-LRRs, our analysis offers significant insight into the evolution of potato R genes. Furthermore, the data provide a blueprint for future efforts to identify and more rapidly clone functional NB-LRR genes from Solanum species.
doi:10.1186/1471-2164-13-75
PMCID: PMC3297505  PMID: 22336098
17.  Leucine-Rich repeat receptor kinases are sporadically distributed in eukaryotic genomes 
Background
Plant leucine-rich repeat receptor-like kinases (LRR-RLKs) are receptor kinases that contain LRRs in their extracellular domain. In the last 15 years, many research groups have demonstrated major roles played by LRR-RLKs in plants during almost all developmental processes throughout the life of the plant and in defense/resistance against a large range of pathogens. Recently, a breakthrough has been made in this field that challenges the dogma of the specificity of plant LRR-RLKs.
Results
We analyzed ~1000 complete genomes and show that LRR-RK genes have now been identified in 8 non-plant genomes. We performed an exhaustive phylogenetic analysis of all of these receptors, revealing that all of the LRR-containing receptor subfamilies form lineage-specific clades. Our results suggest that the association of LRRs with RKs appeared independently at least four times in eukaryotic evolutionary history. Moreover, the molecular evolutionary history of the LRR-RKs found in oomycetes is reminiscent of the pattern observed in plants: expansion with amplification/deletion and evolution of the domain organization leading to the functional diversification of members of the gene family. Finally, the expression data suggest that oomycete LRR-RKs may play a role in several stages of the oomycete life cycle.
Conclusions
In view of the key roles that LRR-RLKs play throughout the entire lifetime of plants and plant-environment interactions, the emergence and expansion of this type of receptor in several phyla along the evolution of eukaryotes, and particularly in oomycete genomes, questions their intrinsic functions in mimicry and/or in the coevolution of receptors between hosts and pathogens.
doi:10.1186/1471-2148-11-367
PMCID: PMC3268121  PMID: 22185365
18.  Homo-dimerization and ligand binding by the leucine-rich repeat domain at RHG1/RFS2 underlying resistance to two soybean pathogens 
BMC Plant Biology  2013;13:43.
Background
The protein encoded by GmRLK18-1 (Glyma_18_02680 on chromosome 18) was a receptor like kinase (RLK) encoded within the soybean (Glycine max L. Merr.) Rhg1/Rfs2 locus. The locus underlies resistance to the soybean cyst nematode (SCN) Heterodera glycines (I.) and causal agent of sudden death syndrome (SDS) Fusarium virguliforme (Aoki). Previously the leucine rich repeat (LRR) domain was expressed in Escherichia coli.
Results
The aims here were to evaluate the LRRs ability to; homo-dimerize; bind larger proteins; and bind to small peptides. Western analysis suggested homo-dimers could form after protein extraction from roots. The purified LRR domain, from residue 131–485, was seen to form a mixture of monomers and homo-dimers in vitro. Cross-linking experiments in vitro showed the H274N region was close (<11.1 A) to the highly conserved cysteine residue C196 on the second homo-dimer subunit. Binding constants of 20–142 nM for peptides found in plant and nematode secretions were found. Effects on plant phenotypes including wilting, stem bending and resistance to infection by SCN were observed when roots were treated with 50 pM of the peptides. Far-Western analyses followed by MS showed methionine synthase and cyclophilin bound strongly to the LRR domain. A second LRR from GmRLK08-1 (Glyma_08_g11350) did not show these strong interactions.
Conclusions
The LRR domain of the GmRLK18-1 protein formed both a monomer and a homo-dimer. The LRR domain bound avidly to 4 different CLE peptides, a cyclophilin and a methionine synthase. The CLE peptides GmTGIF, GmCLE34, GmCLE3 and HgCLE were previously reported to be involved in root growth inhibition but here GmTGIF and HgCLE were shown to alter stem morphology and resistance to SCN. One of several models from homology and ab-initio modeling was partially validated by cross-linking. The effect of the 3 amino acid replacements present among RLK allotypes, A87V, Q115K and H274N were predicted to alter domain stability and function. Therefore, the LRR domain of GmRLK18-1 might underlie both root development and disease resistance in soybean and provide an avenue to develop new variants and ligands that might promote reduced losses to SCN.
doi:10.1186/1471-2229-13-43
PMCID: PMC3626623  PMID: 23497186
Receptor; Leucine-rich repeat; Ligand; Peptide; Cross-link; Predicted
19.  A multiple gene complex on rice chromosome 4 is involved in durable resistance to rice blast 
Quantitative trait loci (QTLs) for resistance to rice blast offer a potential source of durable disease resistance in rice. However, few QTLs have been validated in progeny testing, on account of their small phenotypic effects. To understand the genetic basis for QTL-mediated resistance to blast, we dissected a resistance QTL, qBR4-2, using advanced backcross progeny derived from a chromosome segment substitution line in which a 30- to 34-Mb region of chromosome 4 from the resistant cultivar Owarihatamochi was substituted into the genetic background of the highly susceptible Aichiasahi. The analysis resolved qBR4-2 into three loci, designated qBR4-2a, qBR4-2b, and qBR4-2c. The sequences of qBR4-2a and qBR4-2b, which lie 181 kb apart from each other and measure, 113 and 32 kb, respectively, appear to encode proteins with a putative nucleotide-binding site (NBS) and leucine-rich repeats (LRRs). Sequence analysis of the donor allele of qBR4-2a, the region with the largest effect among the three, revealed sequence variations in the NBS-LRR region. The effect of qBR4-2c was smallest among the three, but its combination with the donor alleles of qBR4-2a and qBR4-2b significantly enhanced blast resistance. qBR4-2 comprises three tightly linked QTLs that control blast resistance in a complex manner, and thus gene pyramiding or haplotype selection is the recommended strategy for improving QTL-mediated resistance to blast disease through the use of this chromosomal region.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00122-012-1852-4) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1007/s00122-012-1852-4
PMCID: PMC3397134  PMID: 22446930
20.  A nematode demographics assay in transgenic roots reveals no significant impacts of the Rhg1 locus LRR-Kinase on soybean cyst nematode resistance 
BMC Plant Biology  2010;10:104.
Background
Soybean cyst nematode (Heterodera glycines, SCN) is the most economically damaging pathogen of soybean (Glycine max) in the U.S. The Rhg1 locus is repeatedly observed as the quantitative trait locus with the greatest impact on SCN resistance. The Glyma18g02680.1 gene at the Rhg1 locus that encodes an apparent leucine-rich repeat transmembrane receptor-kinase (LRR-kinase) has been proposed to be the SCN resistance gene, but its function has not been confirmed. Generation of fertile transgenic soybean lines is difficult but methods have been published that test SCN resistance in transgenic roots generated with Agrobacterium rhizogenes.
Results
We report use of artificial microRNA (amiRNA) for gene silencing in soybean, refinements to transgenic root SCN resistance assays, and functional tests of the Rhg1 locus LRR-kinase gene. A nematode demographics assay monitored infecting nematode populations for their progress through developmental stages two weeks after inoculation, as a metric for SCN resistance. Significant differences were observed between resistant and susceptible control genotypes. Introduction of the Rhg1 locus LRR-kinase gene (genomic promoter/coding region/terminator; Peking/PI 437654-derived SCN-resistant source), into rhg1- SCN-susceptible plant lines carrying the resistant-source Rhg4+ locus, provided no significant increases in SCN resistance. Use of amiRNA to reduce expression of the LRR-kinase gene from the Rhg1 locus of Fayette (PI 88788 source of Rhg1) also did not detectably alter resistance to SCN. However, silencing of the LRR-kinase gene did have impacts on root development.
Conclusion
The nematode demographics assay can expedite testing of transgenic roots for SCN resistance. amiRNAs and the pSM103 vector that drives interchangeable amiRNA constructs through a soybean polyubiqutin promoter (Gmubi), with an intron-GFP marker for detection of transgenic roots, may have widespread use in legume biology. Studies in which expression of the Rhg1 locus LRR-kinase gene from different resistance sources was either reduced or complemented did not reveal significant impacts on SCN resistance.
doi:10.1186/1471-2229-10-104
PMCID: PMC3095272  PMID: 20529370
21.  RNA-Seq Analysis of a Soybean Near-Isogenic Line Carrying Bacterial Leaf Pustule-Resistant and -Susceptible Alleles 
Bacterial leaf pustule (BLP) disease is caused by Xanthomonas axonopodis pv. glycines (Xag). To investigate the plant basal defence mechanisms induced in response to Xag, differential gene expression in near-isogenic lines (NILs) of BLP-susceptible and BLP-resistant soybean was analysed by RNA-Seq. Of a total of 46 367 genes that were mapped to soybean genome reference sequences, 1978 and 783 genes were found to be up- and down-regulated, respectively, in the BLP-resistant NIL relative to the BLP-susceptible NIL at 0, 6, and 12h after inoculation (hai). Clustering analysis revealed that these genes could be grouped into 10 clusters with different expression patterns. Functional annotation based on gene ontology (GO) categories was carried out. Among the putative soybean defence response genes identified (GO:0006952), 134 exhibited significant differences in expression between the BLP-resistant and -susceptible NILs. In particular, pathogen-associated molecular pattern (PAMP) and damage-associated molecular pattern (DAMP) receptors and the genes induced by these receptors were highly expressed at 0 hai in the BLP-resistant NIL. Additionally, pathogenesis-related (PR)-1 and -14 were highly expressed at 0 hai, and PR-3, -6, and -12 were highly expressed at 12 hai. There were also significant differences in the expression of the core JA-signalling components MYC2 and JASMONATE ZIM-motif. These results indicate that powerful basal defence mechanisms involved in the recognition of PAMPs or DAMPs and a high level of accumulation of defence-related gene products may contribute to BLP resistance in soybean.
doi:10.1093/dnares/dsr033
PMCID: PMC3223079  PMID: 21987089
bacterial leaf pustules; disease resistance; RNA-Seq analysis; soybean
22.  Genome Wide Analysis of Nucleotide-Binding Site Disease Resistance Genes in Brachypodium distachyon 
Nucleotide-binding site (NBS) disease resistance genes play an important role in defending plants from a variety of pathogens and insect pests. Many R-genes have been identified in various plant species. However, little is known about the NBS-encoding genes in Brachypodium distachyon. In this study, using computational analysis of the B. distachyon genome, we identified 126 regular NBS-encoding genes and characterized them on the bases of structural diversity, conserved protein motifs, chromosomal locations, gene duplications, promoter region, and phylogenetic relationships. EST hits and full-length cDNA sequences (from Brachypodium database) of 126 R-like candidates supported their existence. Based on the occurrence of conserved protein motifs such as coiled-coil (CC), NBS, leucine-rich repeat (LRR), these regular NBS-LRR genes were classified into four subgroups: CC-NBS-LRR, NBS-LRR, CC-NBS, and X-NBS. Further expression analysis of the regular NBS-encoding genes in Brachypodium database revealed that these genes are expressed in a wide range of libraries, including those constructed from various developmental stages, tissue types, and drought challenged or nonchallenged tissue.
doi:10.1155/2012/418208
PMCID: PMC3368180  PMID: 22693425
23.  Origin and Evolution of GALA-LRR, a New Member of the CC-LRR Subfamily: From Plants to Bacteria? 
PLoS ONE  2008;3(2):e1694.
The phytopathogenic bacterium Ralstonia solanacearum encodes type III effectors, called GALA proteins, which contain F-box and LRR domains. The GALA LRRs do not perfectly fit any of the previously described LRR subfamilies. By applying protein sequence analysis and structural prediction, we clarify this ambiguous case of LRR classification and assign GALA-LRRs to CC-LRR subfamily. We demonstrate that side-by-side packing of LRRs in the 3D structures may control the limits of repeat variability within the LRR subfamilies during evolution. The LRR packing can be used as a criterion, complementing the repeat sequences, to classify newly identified LRR domains. Our phylogenetic analysis of F-box domains proposes the lateral gene transfer of bacterial GALA proteins from host plants. We also present an evolutionary scenario which can explain the transformation of the original plant LRRs into slightly different bacterial LRRs. The examination of the selective evolutionary pressure acting on GALA proteins suggests that the convex side of their horse-shoe shaped LRR domains is more prone to positive selection than the concave side, and we therefore hypothesize that the convex surface might be the site of protein binding relevant to the adaptor function of the F-box GALA proteins. This conclusion provides a strong background for further functional studies aimed at determining the role of these type III effectors in the virulence of R. solanacearum.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0001694
PMCID: PMC2244805  PMID: 18301771
24.  Genetic basis of qualitative and quantitative resistance to powdery mildew in wheat: from consensus regions to candidate genes 
BMC Genomics  2013;14:562.
Background
Powdery mildew (Blumeria graminis f. sp. tritici) is one of the most damaging diseases of wheat. The objective of this study was to identify the wheat genomic regions that are involved in the control of powdery mildew resistance through a quantitative trait loci (QTL) meta-analysis approach. This meta-analysis allows the use of collected QTL data from different published studies to obtain consensus QTL across different genetic backgrounds, thus providing a better definition of the regions responsible for the trait, and the possibility to obtain molecular markers that will be suitable for marker-assisted selection.
Results
Five QTL for resistance to powdery mildew were identified under field conditions in the durum-wheat segregating population Creso × Pedroso. An integrated map was developed for the projection of resistance genes/ alleles and the QTL from the present study and the literature, and to investigate their distribution in the wheat genome. Molecular markers that correspond to candidate genes for plant responses to pathogens were also projected onto the map, particularly considering NBS-LRR and receptor-like protein kinases. More than 80 independent QTL and 51 resistance genes from 62 different mapping populations were projected onto the consensus map using the Biomercator statistical software. Twenty-four MQTL that comprised 2–6 initial QTL that had widely varying confidence intervals were found on 15 chromosomes. The co-location of the resistance QTL and genes was investigated. Moreover, from analysis of the sequences of DArT markers, 28 DArT clones mapped on wheat chromosomes have been shown to be associated with the NBS-LRR genes and positioned in the same regions as the MQTL for powdery mildew resistance.
Conclusions
The results from the present study provide a detailed analysis of the genetic basis of resistance to powdery mildew in wheat. The study of the Creso × Pedroso durum-wheat population has revealed some QTL that had not been previously identified. Furthermore, the analysis of the co-localization of resistance loci and functional markers provides a large list of candidate genes and opens up a new perspective for the fine mapping and isolation of resistance genes, and for the marker-assisted improvement of resistance in wheat.
doi:10.1186/1471-2164-14-562
PMCID: PMC3765315  PMID: 23957646
Wheat; Powdery mildew; MQTL; Collinearity; Resistance gene
25.  Unique features of the rice blast resistance Pish locus revealed by large scale retrotransposon-tagging 
BMC Plant Biology  2010;10:175.
Background
R gene-mediated resistance is one of the most effective mechanisms of immunity against pathogens in plants. To date some components that regulate the primary steps of plant immunity have been isolated, however, the molecular dissection of defense signaling downstream of the R proteins remains to be completed. In addition, R genes are known to be highly variable, however, the molecular mechanisms responsible for this variability remain obscure.
Results
To identify novel factors required for R gene-mediated resistance in rice, we used rice insertional mutant lines, induced by the endogenous retrotransposon Tos17, in a genetic screening involving the rice blast fungus Magnaporthe oryzae. We inoculated 41,119 mutant lines with the fungus using a high throughput procedure, and identified 86 mutant lines with diminished resistance. A genome analysis revealed that 72 of the 86 lines contained mutations in a gene encoding a nucleotide binding site (NBS) and leucine rich repeat (LRR) domain-containing (NBS-LRR) protein. A genetic complementation analysis and a pathogenesis assay demonstrated that this NBS-LRR gene encodes Pish, which confers resistance against races of M. oryzae containing avrPish. The other 14 lines have intact copies of the Pish gene, suggesting that they may contain mutations in the signaling components downstream of Pish. The genome analysis indicated that Pish and its neighboring three NBS-LRR genes are high similar to one another and are tandemly located. An in silico analysis of a Tos17 flanking sequence database revealed that this region is a "hot spot" for insertion. Intriguingly, the insertion sites are not distributed evenly among these four NBS-LRR genes, despite their similarity at the sequence and expression levels.
Conclusions
In this work we isolated the R gene Pish, and identified several other mutants involved in the signal transduction required for Pish-mediated resistance. These results indicate that our genetic approach is efficient and useful for unveiling novel aspects of defense signaling in rice. Furthermore, our data provide experimental evidence that R gene clusters have the potential to be highly preferred targets for transposable element insertions in plant genomes. Based on this finding, a possible mechanism underlying the high variability of R genes is discussed.
doi:10.1186/1471-2229-10-175
PMCID: PMC3017791  PMID: 20707904

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