Nucleotide binding domain and leucine-rich repeat proteins (NLRs) are important receptors in plant immunity that allow recognition of pathogen effectors. The rice (Oryza sativa) NLR RGA5 recognizes the Magnaporthe oryzae effector AVR-Pia through direct interaction. Here, we gained detailed insights into the molecular and structural bases of AVR-Pia-RGA5 interaction and the role of the RATX1 decoy domain of RGA5. NMR titration combined with in vitro and in vivo protein-protein interaction analyses identified the AVR-Pia interaction surface that binds to the RATX1 domain. Structure-informed AVR-Pia mutants showed that, although AVR-Pia associates with additional sites in RGA5, binding to the RATX1 domain is necessary for pathogen recognition but can be of moderate affinity. Therefore, RGA5-mediated resistance is highly resilient to mutations in the effector. We propose a model that explains such robust effector recognition as a consequence, and an advantage, of the combination of integrated decoy domains with additional independent effector-NLR interactions.
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