Programmed cell death in the plant immune system

Cell Death Differ. 2011 Aug;18(8):1247-56. doi: 10.1038/cdd.2011.37. Epub 2011 Apr 8.


Cell death has a central role in innate immune responses in both plants and animals. Besides sharing striking convergences and similarities in the overall evolutionary organization of their innate immune systems, both plants and animals can respond to infection and pathogen recognition with programmed cell death. The fact that plant and animal pathogens have evolved strategies to subvert specific cell death modalities emphasizes the essential role of cell death during immune responses. The hypersensitive response (HR) cell death in plants displays morphological features, molecular architectures and mechanisms reminiscent of different inflammatory cell death types in animals (pyroptosis and necroptosis). In this review, we describe the molecular pathways leading to cell death during innate immune responses. Additionally, we present recently discovered caspase and caspase-like networks regulating cell death that have revealed fascinating analogies between cell death control across both kingdoms.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Caspases / classification
  • Caspases / immunology
  • Cell Death / immunology*
  • Immunity, Innate / immunology*
  • Phylogeny
  • Plant Cells
  • Plant Diseases / immunology
  • Plant Immunity / immunology*
  • Plant Proteins / immunology
  • Plants / immunology*
  • Signal Transduction / immunology


  • Plant Proteins
  • Caspases