The plant immune system

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The plant immune system

Many plant-associated microbes are pathogens that impair plant growth and reproduction. Plants respond to infection using a two-branched innate immune system. The first branch recognizes and responds to molecules common to many classes of microbes, including non-pathogens. The second responds to pathogen virulence factors, either directly or through their effects on host targets.
These plant immune systems, and the pathogen molecules to which they respond, provide extraordinary insights into molecular recognition, cell biology and evolution across biological kingdoms. A detailed understanding of plant immune function will underpin crop improvement for food, fibre and biofuels production.

The role of pattern-recognition receptors in innate immunity: update on Toll-like receptors.

The discovery of Toll-like receptors (TLRs) as components that recognize conserved structures in pathogens has greatly advanced understanding of how the body senses pathogen invasion, triggers innate immune responses and primes antigen-specific adaptive immunity. Although TLRs are critical for host defense, it has become apparent that loss of negative regulation of TLR signaling, as well as recognition of self molecules by TLRs, are strongly associated with the pathogenesis of inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. Furthermore, it is now clear that the interaction between TLRs and recently identified cytosolic innate immune sensors is crucial for mounting effective immune responses. Here we describe the recent advances that have been made by research into the role of TLR biology in host defense and disease.

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Recognition of double-stranded RNA and activation of NF-kappaB by Toll-like receptor 3.

Toll-like receptors (TLRs) are a family of innate immune-recognition receptors that recognize molecular patterns associated with microbial pathogens, and induce antimicrobial immune responses. Double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) is a molecular pattern associated with viral infection, because it is produced by most viruses at some point during their replication.
Here we show that mammalian TLR3 recognizes dsRNA, and that activation of the receptor induces the activation of NF-kappaB and the production of type I interferons (IFNs). TLR3-deficient (TLR3-/-) mice showed reduced responses to polyinosine-polycytidylic acid (poly(I:C)), resistance to the lethal effect of poly(I:C) when sensitized with d-galactosamine (d-GalN), and reduced production of inflammatory cytokines. MyD88 is an adaptor protein that is shared by all the known TLRs. When activated by poly(I:C), TLR3 induces cytokine production through a signalling pathway dependent on MyD88. Moreover, poly(I:C) can induce activation of NF-kappaB and mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinases independently of MyD88, and cause dendritic cells to mature.

Association of NOD2 leucine-rich repeat variants with susceptibility to Crohn’s disease.

Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, the two main types of chronic inflammatory bowel disease, are multifactorial conditions of unknown aetiology. A susceptibility locus for Crohn’s disease has been mapped to chromosome 16. Here we have used a positional-cloning strategy, based on linkage analysis followed by linkage disequilibrium mapping, to identify three independent associations for Crohn’s disease: a frameshift variant and two missense variants of NOD2, encoding a member of the Apaf-1/Ced-4 superfamily of apoptosis regulators that is expressed in monocytes.
These NOD2 variants alter the structure of either the leucine-rich repeat domain of the protein or the adjacent region. NOD2 activates nuclear factor NF-kB; this activating function is regulated by the carboxy-terminal leucine-rich repeat domain, which has an inhibitory role and also acts as an intracellular receptor for components of microbial pathogens. These observations suggest that the NOD2 gene product confers susceptibility to Crohn’s disease by altering the recognition of these components and/or by over-activating NF-kB in monocytes, thus documenting a molecular model for the pathogenic mechanism of Crohn’s disease that can now be further investigated.

Recognition of commensal microflora by toll-like receptors is required for intestinal homeostasis.

Toll-like receptors (TLRs) play a crucial role in host defense against microbial infection. The microbial ligands recognized by TLRs are not unique to pathogens, however, and are produced by both pathogenic and commensal microorganisms. It is thought that an inflammatory response to commensal bacteria is avoided due to sequestration of microflora by surface epithelia. Here, we show that commensal bacteria are recognized by TLRs under normal steady-state conditions, and this interaction plays a crucial role in the maintenance of intestinal epithelial homeostasis.
Furthermore, we find that activation of TLRs by commensal microflora is critical for the protection against gut injury and associated mortality. These findings reveal a novel function of TLRs-control of intestinal epithelial homeostasis and protection from injury-and provide a new perspective on the evolution of host-microbial interactions.

Induction of intestinal Th17 cells by segmented filamentous bacteria.

The gastrointestinal tract of mammals is inhabited by hundreds of distinct species of commensal microorganisms that exist in a mutualistic relationship with the host. How commensal microbiota influence the host immune system is poorly understood. We show here that colonization of the small intestine of mice with a single commensal microbe, segmented filamentous bacterium (SFB), is sufficient to induce the appearance of CD4(+) T helper cells that produce IL-17 and IL-22 (Th17 cells) in the lamina propria.
SFB adhere tightly to the surface of epithelial cells in the terminal ileum of mice with Th17 cells but are absent from mice that have few Th17 cells. Colonization with SFB was correlated with increased expression of genes associated with inflammation and antimicrobial defenses and resulted in enhanced resistance to the intestinal pathogen Citrobacter rodentium.

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