Plant intracellular nucleotide-binding leucine-rich repeat (NLR) immune receptors often function in pairs to detect pathogen effectors and activate defense. The Arabidopsis RRS1-R-RPS4 NLR pair recognizes the bacterial effectors AvrRps4 and PopP2 via an integrated WRKY transcription factor domain in RRS1-R that mimics the effector's authentic targets. How the complex activates defense upon effector recognition is unknown. Deletion of the WRKY domain results in an RRS1 allele that triggers constitutive RPS4-dependent defense activation, suggesting that in the absence of effector, the WRKY domain contributes to maintaining the complex in an inactive state. We show the WRKY domain interacts with the adjacent domain 4, and that the inactive state of RRS1 is maintained by WRKY-domain 4 interactions before ligand detection. AvrRps4 interaction with the WRKY domain disrupts WRKY-domain 4 association, thus derepressing the complex. PopP2-triggered activation is less easily explained by such disruption and involves the longer C-terminal extension of RRS1-R. Furthermore, some mutations in RPS4 and RRS1 compromise PopP2 but not AvrRps4 recognition, suggesting that AvrRps4 and PopP2 derepress the complex differently. Consistent with this, a "reversibly closed" conformation of RRS1-R, engineered in a method exploiting the high affinity of colicin E9 and Im9 domains, reversibly loses AvrRps4, but not PopP2 responsiveness. Following RRS1 derepression, interactions between domain 4 and the RPS4 C-terminal domain likely contribute to activation. Simultaneous relief of autoinhibition and activation may contribute to defense activation in many immune receptors.
Keywords: effector target; effector-triggered immunity; integrated decoy; paired NLR immune receptors; plant-disease resistance.
Copyright © 2018 the Author(s). Published by PNAS.