Uncoiling CNLs: Structure/Function Approaches to Understanding CC Domain Function in Plant NLRs

Plant Cell Physiol. 2018 Dec 1;59(12):2398-2408. doi: 10.1093/pcp/pcy185.


Plant nucleotide-binding leucine-rich repeat receptors (NLRs) are intracellular pathogen receptors whose N-terminal domains are integral to signal transduction after perception of a pathogen-derived effector protein. The two major plant NLR classes are defined by the presence of either a Toll/interleukin-1 receptor (TIR) or a coiled-coil (CC) domain at their N-terminus (TNLs and CNLs). Our knowledge of how CC domains function in plant CNLs lags behind that of how TIR domains function in plant TNLs. CNLs are the most abundant class of NLRs in monocotyledonous plants, and further research is required to understand the molecular mechanisms of how these domains contribute to disease resistance in cereal crops. Previous studies of CC domains have revealed functional diversity, making categorization difficult, which in turn makes experimental design for assaying function challenging. In this review, we summarize the current understanding of CC domain function in plant CNLs, highlighting the differences in modes of action and structure. To aid experimental design in exploring CC domain function, we present a 'best-practice' guide to designing constructs through use of sequence and secondary structure comparisons and discuss the relevant assays for investigating CC domain function. Finally, we discuss whether using homology modeling is useful to describe putative CC domain function in CNLs through parallels with the functions of previously characterized helical adaptor proteins.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • NLR Proteins / chemistry*
  • NLR Proteins / metabolism*
  • Plant Proteins / chemistry*
  • Plant Proteins / metabolism*
  • Plants / metabolism*
  • Protein Domains
  • Protein Structure, Secondary
  • Structure-Activity Relationship


  • NLR Proteins
  • Plant Proteins