uORF-mediated translation allows engineered plant disease resistance without fitness costs

Nature. 2017 May 25;545(7655):491-494. doi: 10.1038/nature22372. Epub 2017 May 17.

Abstract

Controlling plant disease has been a struggle for humankind since the advent of agriculture. Studies of plant immune mechanisms have led to strategies of engineering resistant crops through ectopic transcription of plants' own defence genes, such as the master immune regulatory gene NPR1 (ref. 1). However, enhanced resistance obtained through such strategies is often associated with substantial penalties to fitness, making the resulting products undesirable for agricultural applications. To remedy this problem, we sought more stringent mechanisms of expressing defence proteins. On the basis of our latest finding that translation of key immune regulators, such as TBF1 (ref. 3), is rapidly and transiently induced upon pathogen challenge (see accompanying paper), we developed a 'TBF1-cassette' consisting of not only the immune-inducible promoter but also two pathogen-responsive upstream open reading frames (uORFsTBF1) of the TBF1 gene. Here we demonstrate that inclusion of uORFsTBF1-mediated translational control over the production of snc1-1 (an autoactivated immune receptor) in Arabidopsis thaliana and AtNPR1 in rice enables us to engineer broad-spectrum disease resistance without compromising plant fitness in the laboratory or in the field. This broadly applicable strategy may lead to decreased pesticide use and reduce the selective pressure for resistant pathogens.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Arabidopsis / genetics
  • Arabidopsis / immunology
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / biosynthesis
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / genetics
  • Crops, Agricultural / genetics
  • Crops, Agricultural / immunology
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / biosynthesis
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / immunology
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant*
  • Genetic Fitness / genetics*
  • Heat Shock Transcription Factors
  • Heat-Shock Proteins / biosynthesis
  • Heat-Shock Proteins / genetics
  • Heat-Shock Proteins / immunology
  • Open Reading Frames / genetics*
  • Oryza / genetics
  • Oryza / immunology
  • Plant Diseases / genetics*
  • Plant Diseases / immunology*
  • Plant Immunity / genetics*
  • Plant Proteins / biosynthesis
  • Plant Proteins / genetics
  • Plant Proteins / immunology
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic / genetics
  • Protein Biosynthesis*
  • Transcription Factors / biosynthesis
  • Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Transcription Factors / immunology
  • Transcription, Genetic

Substances

  • Arabidopsis Proteins
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Heat Shock Transcription Factors
  • Heat-Shock Proteins
  • Plant Proteins
  • SNC1 protein, Arabidopsis
  • TBF1 protein, Arabidopsis
  • Transcription Factors