PerspectivePlant Science

Beleaguered Immunity

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Science  09 Dec 2011:
Vol. 334, Issue 6061, pp. 1354-1355
DOI: 10.1126/science.1216482

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Plants defend themselves against pathogens with an immune system that detects foreign molecules and endogenous danger signals (1). Pathogens interfere with this response by secreting effector proteins that target nodes in the underlying cell signaling network (2). In turn, plants guard these nodes with surveillance proteins that detect effectors' sabotage attempts and trigger antimicrobial responses, including programmed cell death at the infection site. Because this “effector-triggered immunity” underpins breeding for disease resistance in crops, there is much interest in understanding how surveillance proteins are activated and how this alarm signal triggers immune responses. One well-studied immune regulatory protein is called ENHANCED DISEASE SUSCEPTIBILITY 1 (EDS1) because mutations in the EDS1 gene compromise immunity (3), but its molecular function has not been clear. Two papers in this issue, by Bhattacharjee et al. (4) on page 1405 and Heidrich et al. (5) on page 1401, identify proteins that interact with EDS1 and describe the spatial mobility of these protein complexes. These studies also show that EDS1 is attacked by pathogen effector proteins, prompting a reappraisal of its role in regulating the immune response.