PerspectivePlant Science

Paired Plant Immune Receptors

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Science  18 Apr 2014:
Vol. 344, Issue 6181, pp. 267-268
DOI: 10.1126/science.1253849

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Plants are constantly interpreting microbial signals from potential pathogens and potential commensals or mutualists. Because plants have no circulating cells dedicated to this task, every plant cell must, in principle, recognize any microbe as friend, foe, or irrelevant bystander. That tall order is mediated by an array of innate immune system receptors: pattern-recognition receptors outside the plant cell and nucleotide-binding oligomerization domain (NOD)–like receptors (NLRs) inside the cell. Despite their importance for plant health, how NLRs function mechanistically has remained obscure. On page 299 of this issue, Williams et al. (1) reveal a role for heterodimerization between NLRs and show how the rather limited NLR repertoire of any plant genome might be enhanced by combinatorial diversity.