Host-Pathogen Interactions

Fungal Defenses

Science Signaling  24 Aug 2010:
Vol. 3, Issue 136, pp. ec257
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.3136ec257

One of the major driving forces of evolution is the constant arms race between plants and animals and the microbial pathogens that infect them. The fungus Cladosporium fulvum causes leaf mold on tomato plants. One of the ways tomato plants sense infections by C. fulvum is by detecting chitin, a component of fungal cell walls. In response, the fungus has evolved strategies to evade detection. De Jonge et al. have now identified one such mechanism in C. fulvum, mediated by the effector protein Ecp6. Secreted Ecp6 is able to bind to chitin oligosaccharides that are released upon degradation of the fungal cell wall and sequester them so that they are not detected by tomato chitin receptors. Proteins with domain structure similar to Ecp6 are conserved throughout the fungal kingdom, which suggests that chitin sequestration may represent a general mechanism used by fungi to evade immune detection.

R. de Jonge, H. P. van Esse, A. Kombrink, T. Shinya, Y. Desaki, R. Bours, S. van der Krol, N. Shibuya, M. H. A. J. Joosten, B. P. H. J. Thomma, Conserved fungal LysM effector Ecp6 prevents chitin-triggered immunity in plants. Science 329, 953–955 (2010). [Abstract] [Full Text]