NLR functions in plant and animal immune systems: so far and yet so close

Nat Immunol. 2011 Aug 18;12(9):817-26. doi: 10.1038/ni.2083.


In plants and animals, the NLR family of receptors perceives non-self and modified-self molecules inside host cells and mediates innate immune responses to microbial pathogens. Despite their similar biological functions and protein architecture, animal NLRs are normally activated by conserved microbe- or damage-associated molecular patterns, whereas plant NLRs typically detect strain-specific pathogen effectors. Plant NLRs recognize either the effector structure or effector-mediated modifications of host proteins. The latter indirect mechanism for the perception of non-self, as well as the within-species diversification of plant NLRs, maximize the capacity to recognize non-self through the use of a finite number of innate immunoreceptors. We discuss recent insights into NLR activation, signal initiation through the homotypic association of N-terminal domains and subcellular receptor dynamics in plants and compare those with NLR functions in animals.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bacteria / pathogenicity
  • Biological Evolution
  • Cell Death
  • Cytokines / immunology
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Fungi / pathogenicity
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant
  • Genetic Heterogeneity
  • Host-Parasite Interactions
  • Immunity, Innate*
  • Mice
  • Plant Growth Regulators / immunology
  • Plant Growth Regulators / metabolism
  • Plant Immunity*
  • Plant Proteins / immunology
  • Plants / immunology*
  • Plants / microbiology
  • Plants / parasitology
  • Protein Multimerization
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / genetics
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / immunology*
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / metabolism
  • Receptors, Pattern Recognition / genetics
  • Receptors, Pattern Recognition / immunology*
  • Receptors, Pattern Recognition / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction / immunology*


  • CXCR5 protein, mouse
  • Cytokines
  • Plant Growth Regulators
  • Plant Proteins
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled
  • Receptors, Pattern Recognition