Involvement of the small GTPase Rac in the defense responses of tobacco to pathogens

Mol Plant Microbe Interact. 2005 Feb;18(2):116-24. doi: 10.1094/MPMI-18-0116.


During the hypersensitive response (HR), plants accumulate reactive oxygen species (ROS) that are likely generated at least in part by an NADPH oxidase similar to that found in mammalian neutrophils. An essential regulator of mammalian NADPH oxidase is the small GTP-binding protein Rac. To investigate whether Rac also regulates the pathogen-induced oxidative burst in plants, a dominant negative form of the rice OsRac1 gene was overexpressed in tobacco carrying the N resistance gene. Following infection with Tobacco mosaic virus (TMV), DN-OsRacl plants developed smaller lesions than wild-type plants, accumulated lower levels of lipid peroxidation products, and failed to activate expression of antioxidant genes. These results, combined with the demonstration that superoxide and hydrogen peroxide levels were reduced in DN-OsRacl tobacco developing a synchronous HR triggered by transient expression of the TMV p50 helicase domain or the Pto and AvrPto proteins, suggest that ROS production is impaired. The dominant negative effect of DN-OsRacl could be rescued by transiently overexpressing the wild-type OsRac1 protein. TMV-induced salicylic acid accumulation also was compromised in DN-OsRacl tobacco. Interestingly, while systemic acquired resistance to TMV was not impaired, nonhost resistance to Pseudomonas syringae pv. maculicola ES4326 was suppressed. Thus, the effect DN-OsRac1 expression exerts on the resistance signaling pathway appears to vary depending on the identity of the inoculated pathogen.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant
  • Immunity, Innate
  • Plant Diseases / microbiology
  • Plant Diseases / virology
  • Plant Proteins / physiology*
  • Plants, Genetically Modified
  • Pseudomonas syringae
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • Respiratory Burst
  • Salicylic Acid / metabolism
  • Tobacco / enzymology
  • Tobacco / microbiology
  • Tobacco / physiology*
  • Tobacco / virology
  • Tobacco Mosaic Virus
  • rac GTP-Binding Proteins / physiology*
  • rac1 GTP-Binding Protein / genetics


  • Plant Proteins
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • rac GTP-Binding Proteins
  • rac1 GTP-Binding Protein
  • Salicylic Acid