The tobacco N gene confers resistance to tobacco mosaic virus (TMV) and encodes a Toll-interleukin-1 receptor/nucleotide binding site/leucine-rich repeat (TIR-NBS-LRR) class protein. We have developed and used a tobacco rattle virus (TRV) based virus induced gene silencing (VIGS) system to investigate the role of tobacco candidate genes in the N-mediated signalling pathway. To accomplish this we generated transgenic Nicotiana benthamiana containing the tobacco N gene. The transgenic lines exhibit hypersensitive response (HR) to TMV and restrict virus spread to the inoculated site. This demonstrates that the tobacco N gene can confer resistance to TMV in heterologous N. benthamiana. We have used this line to study the role of tobacco Rar1-, EDS1-, and NPR1/NIM1- like genes in N-mediated resistance to TMV using a TRV based VIGS approach. Our VIGS analysis suggests that these genes are required for N function. EDS1-like gene requirement for the N function suggests that EDS1 could be a common component of bacterial, fungal and viral resistance signalling mediated by the TIR-NBS-LRR class of resistance proteins. Requirement of Rar1- like gene for N-mediated resistance to TMV and some powdery mildew resistance genes in barley provide the first example of converging points in the disease resistance signalling pathways mediated by TIR-NBS-LRR and CC-NBS-LRR proteins. The TRV based VIGS approach as described here to study N-mediated resistance signalling will be useful for the analysis of not only disease resistance signalling pathways but also of other signalling pathways in genetically intractable plant systems.