Dominant integration locus drives continuous diversification of plant immune receptors with exogenous domain fusions

Paul C. Bailey, Christian Schudoma, William Jackson, Erin Baggs, Gulay Dagdas, Wilfried Haerty, Matthew Moscou, Ksenia V. Krasileva

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Background: The plant immune system is innate and encoded in the germline. Using it efficiently, plants are capable of recognizing a diverse range of rapidly evolving pathogens. A recently described phenomenon shows that plant immune receptors are able to recognize pathogen effectors through the acquisition of exogenous protein domains from other plant genes.

Results: We show that plant immune receptors with integrated domains are distributed unevenly across their phylogeny in grasses. Using phylogenetic analysis, we uncover a major integration clade, whose members underwent repeated independent integration events producing diverse fusions. This clade is ancestral in grasses with members often found on syntenic chromosomes. Analyses of these fusion events reveals that homologous receptors can be fused to diverse domains. Furthermore, we discover a 43 amino acids long motif associated with this dominant integration clade and that is located immediately upstream of the fusion site. Sequence analysis reveals that DNA transposition and/or ectopic recombination are the most likely mechanisms of formation for Nucleotide Binding Leucine Rich Repeat proteins with Integrated Domains.

Conclusions: The identification of this subclass of plant immune receptors that is naturally adapted to new domain integration will inform biotechnological approaches for generating synthetic receptors with novel pathogen 'baits'.
Original languageEnglish
Article number23
JournalGenome Biology
Publication statusPublished - 19 Feb 2018


  • Plant immunity
  • Disease resistance genes
  • NLRs
  • Gene fusions

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