Arabidopsis ATG6 is required to limit the pathogen-associated cell death response

Autophagy. 2008 Jan;4(1):20-7. doi: 10.4161/auto.5056. Epub 2007 Sep 11.


To begin to understand the interplay between autophagy and the hypersensitive response (HR), a type of programmed cell death (PCD) induced during plant innate immunity, we generated ATG6 antisense plants in the genetically tractable Arabidopsis thaliana system. AtATG6 antisense (AtATG6-AS) plants senesce early and are sensitive to nutrient starvation, suggestive of impairment of autophagic function in these plants. Additionally, these plants exhibited multiple developmental abnormalities, a phenomenon not observed in other AtATG mutants. AtATG6-AS plants produced fewer Monodansylcadaverine (MDC) and LysoTracker (LT) stained-autolysosomes in response to carbon and nitrogen starvation indicating that AtATG6 plays a role in the autophagic pathway in Arabidopsis. Interestingly, the level of AtATG6 mRNA in wild type Col-0 Arabidopsis plants is increased during the early phase of virulent and avirulent Pseudomonas syringae pv tomato (Pst) DC3000 infection suggesting that AtATG6 plays an important role during pathogen infection. In AtATG6-AS plants, HR-PCD induced upon infection with avirulent Pst DC3000 carrying the AvrRpm1 effector protein is not able to be contained at the infection site and spreads into uninfected tissue. Additionally, the disease-associated cell death induced by the infection of virulent Pst DC3000 bacteria is also partially misregulated in AtATG6-AS plants. Therefore, the AtATG6 antisense plants characterized here provide an excellent genetic model system to elucidate the molecular mechanisms by which autophagy regulates pathogen-induced cell death.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptor Proteins, Vesicular Transport / genetics
  • Adaptor Proteins, Vesicular Transport / metabolism*
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Arabidopsis / microbiology
  • Arabidopsis / physiology*
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / genetics
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / metabolism*
  • Autophagy / physiology*
  • Beclin-1
  • Cell Death / physiology*
  • Lysosomes / metabolism
  • Phenotype
  • Plant Diseases* / microbiology
  • Plant Leaves / anatomy & histology
  • Plant Leaves / metabolism
  • Plants, Genetically Modified
  • Pseudomonas syringae / pathogenicity*


  • Adaptor Proteins, Vesicular Transport
  • Arabidopsis Proteins
  • Beclin-1
  • beclin 1 protein, Arabidopsis