Molecular basis of Pto-mediated resistance to bacterial speck disease in tomato

Annu Rev Phytopathol. 2003;41:215-43. doi: 10.1146/annurev.phyto.41.121602.143032.


The Pto gene in tomato confers gene-for-gene resistance to Pseudomonas syringae pv. tomato, the causative agent of bacterial speck disease. Pto was first introgressed from a wild species of tomato into cultivated tomato varieties over 60 years ago and is now widely used to control speck disease. Cloning of the Pto gene revealed that it encodes a cytoplasmically localized serine-threonine protein kinase. The molecular basis of gene-for-gene recognition in this pathosystem is the direct physical interaction of the Pto kinase with either of two Pseudomonas effector proteins, AvrPto and AvrPtoB. Upon recognition of AvrPto or AvrPtoB, the Pto kinase acts in concert with Prf, a leucine-rich repeat-containing protein, to activate multiple signal transduction pathways. There has been much progress in understanding the evolutionary origin of the Pto gene, structural details about how the Pto kinase interacts with AvrPto and AvrPtoB, signaling steps downstream of Pto, and defense responses activated by the Pto pathway. Future work on this model system will focus on how the interaction of the Pto kinase with bacterial effector proteins activates signal transduction, defining the specific role of signaling components, and ultimately, determining which host defense responses are most responsible for inhibiting growth of the pathogen and suppressing symptoms of bacterial speck disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Genes, Plant*
  • Lycopersicon esculentum / genetics
  • Lycopersicon esculentum / microbiology*
  • Plant Leaves / microbiology
  • Plant Proteins*
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases / genetics*
  • Pseudomonas syringae / pathogenicity*


  • Plant Proteins
  • Pto protein, Lycopersicon
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases