MAMPs and MIMPs: proposed classifications for inducers of innate immunity

Mol Microbiol. 2006 Sep;61(6):1365-71. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2958.2006.05311.x. Epub 2006 Aug 8.


Plants encode a sophisticated innate immune system. Resistance against potential pathogens often relies on active responses. Prerequisite to the induction of defences is recognition of the pathogenic threat. Significant advances have been made in our understanding of the non-self molecules that are recognized by plants and the means by which plants perceive them. Established terms describing these recognition events, including microbe-associated molecular pattern (MAMP), MAMP-receptor, effector, and resistance (R) protein, need clarification to represent our current knowledge adequately. In this review we propose criteria to classify inducers of plant defence as either MAMPs or microbe-induced molecular patterns (MIMPs). We refine the definition of MAMP to mean a molecular sequence or structure in ANY pathogen-derived molecule that is perceived via direct interaction with a host defence receptor. MIMPs are modifications of host-derived molecules that are induced by an intrinsic activity of a pathogen-derived effector and are perceived by a host defence receptor. MAMP-receptors have previously been classified separately from R-proteins as a discrete class of surveillance molecules. However, MAMP-receptors and R-proteins cannot be distinguished on the basis of their protein structures or their induced responses. We propose that MAMP-receptors and MIMP-receptors are each a subset of R-proteins. Although our review is based on examples from plant pathogens and plants, the principles discussed might prove applicable to other organisms.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Immunity, Innate*
  • Plant Diseases / microbiology*
  • Plant Proteins / classification
  • Plants / immunology*
  • Plants / microbiology*
  • Receptors, Cell Surface / classification
  • Terminology as Topic


  • Plant Proteins
  • Receptors, Cell Surface