The front line of defence: a meta-analysis of apoplastic proteases in plant immunity

J Exp Bot. 2021 Apr 13;72(9):3381-3394. doi: 10.1093/jxb/eraa602.


Secreted proteases act at the front line of defence and play pivotal roles in disease resistance. However, the criteria for apoplastic immune proteases are not always defined and followed. Here, we critically reviewed 46 apoplastic proteases that function in plant defence. We found that most apoplastic immune proteases are induced upon infection, and 17 proteases are genetically required for the immune response. Proteolytic activity has been confirmed for most of the proteases but is rarely shown to be required for biological function, and the apoplastic location of proteases can be subjective and dynamic. Pathogen-derived inhibitors have only been described for cysteine and serine proteases, and the selection pressure acting on immune proteases is rarely investigated. We discuss six different mechanisms by which these proteases mediate plant immunity and summarize the challenges for future research.

Keywords: Apoplast; defence; hypersensitive response; immunity; pathogen; plant; protease; recognition; signalling.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Disease Resistance
  • Peptide Hydrolases* / metabolism
  • Plant Diseases
  • Plant Immunity*
  • Plants / metabolism
  • Proteolysis


  • Peptide Hydrolases