Polarized Defense Against Fungal Pathogens Is Mediated by the Jacalin-Related Lectin Domain of Modular Poaceae-Specific Proteins

Denise Weidenbach, Lara Esch, Claudia Möller, Goetz Hensel, Jochen Kumlehn, Caroline Höfle, Ralph Hückelhoven, Ulrich Schaffrath

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


Modular proteins are an evolutionary answer to optimize performance of proteins that physically interact with each other for functionality. Using a combination of genetic and biochemical experiments, we characterized the rice protein OsJAC1, which consists of a jacalin-related lectin (JRL) domain predicted to bind mannose-containing oligosaccharides, and a dirigent domain which might function in stereoselective coupling of monolignols. Transgenic overexpression of OsJAC1 in rice resulted in quantitative broad-spectrum resistance against different pathogens including bacteria, oomycetes, and fungi. Overexpression of this gene or its wheat ortholog TAJA1 in barley enhanced resistance against the powdery mildew fungus. Both protein domains of OsJAC1 are required to establish resistance as indicated by single or combined transient expression of individual domains. Expression of artificially separated and fluorescence-tagged protein domains showed that the JRL domain is sufficient for targeting the powdery mildew penetration site. Nevertheless, co-localization of the lectin and the dirigent domain occurred. Phylogenetic analyses revealed orthologs of OsJAC1 exclusively within the Poaceae plant family. Dicots, by contrast, only contain proteins with either JRL or dirigent domain(s). Altogether, our results identify OsJAC1 as a representative of a novel type of resistance protein derived from a plant lineage-specific gene fusion event for better function in local pathogen defense.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)514-527
Number of pages14
JournalMolecular Plant
Issue number4
StatePublished - 4 Apr 2016


  • Rosetta stone protein
  • barley (Hordeum vulgare)
  • broad-spectrum disease resistance
  • dirigent
  • jacalin-related lectin
  • rice (Oryza sativa)


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