MorTAL Kombat: the story of defense against TAL effectors through loss-of-susceptibility

Front Plant Sci. 2015 Jul 14;6:535. doi: 10.3389/fpls.2015.00535. eCollection 2015.


Many plant-pathogenic xanthomonads rely on Transcription Activator-Like (TAL) effectors to colonize their host. This particular family of type III effectors functions as specific plant transcription factors via a programmable DNA-binding domain. Upon binding to the promoters of plant disease susceptibility genes in a sequence-specific manner, the expression of these host genes is induced. However, plants have evolved specific strategies to counter the action of TAL effectors and confer resistance. One mechanism is to avoid the binding of TAL effectors by mutations of their DNA binding sites, resulting in resistance by loss-of-susceptibility. This article reviews our current knowledge of the susceptibility hubs targeted by Xanthomonas TAL effectors, possible evolutionary scenarios for plants to combat the pathogen with loss-of-function alleles, and how this knowledge can be used overall to develop new pathogen-informed breeding strategies and improve crop resistance.

Keywords: TAL effectors; Xanthomonas; agricultural biotechnology; hubs; loss-of-function alleles; plant disease susceptibility S genes.

Publication types

  • Review