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Huge virulence gene superfamily responsible for devastating plant diseases
Date:4/2/2008

ells. Similar motifs are also found in the effector proteins produced by the malarial parasite Plasmodium as it invades red blood cells. The team also detected some conserved amino acid motifs (W, Y and L) at the other end (C terminus) of some of the proteins that have been selected over years of evolution. These C-terminal motifs are usually arranged as a module that can be repeated up to eight times. The functions of these C-terminal motifs are being investigated further.

The Avh gene superfamily is one of the most rapidly evolving parts of the genome. Duplications of genes are common and presumably responsible for the rapid expansion of the family. The diversity and duplication of genes noted in the sequences are consistent with maximizing the number of effector genes in the pathogens while making it increasingly difficult for the host defense systems to recognize invading molecules, ideal features for effector proteins aimed at wreaking havoc on susceptible plant hosts. Professor Brett Tyler of the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute, the leader of the project, remarked: The extraordinary speed with which the Avh genes are evolving suggests that these genes are key to the pathogens ability to outwit the defense systems of the plants.


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Contact: Barry Whyte
whyte@vbi.vt.edu
540-231-1767
Virginia Tech
Source:Eurekalert

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