Extracellular DNA: The tip of root defenses?

Martha C. Hawes, Gilberto Curlango-Rivera, Fushi Wen, Gerard J. White, Hans D. VanEtten, Zhongguo Xiong

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

62 Scopus citations

Abstract

This review discusses how extracellular DNA (exDNA) might function in plant defense, and at what level(s) of innate immunity this process might operate. A new role for extracellular factors in mammalian defense has been described in a series of studies. These studies reveal that cells including neutrophils, eosinophils, and mast cells produce 'extracellular traps' (ETs) consisting of histone-linked exDNA. When pathogens are attracted to such ETs, they are trapped and killed. When the exDNA component of ETs is degraded, trapping is impaired and resistance against invasion is reduced. Conversely, mutation of microbial genes encoding exDNases that degrade exDNA results in loss of virulence. This discovery that exDNases are virulence factors opens new avenues for disease control. In plants, exDNA is required for defense of the root tip. Innate immunity-related proteins are among a group of >100 proteins secreted from the root cap and root border cell populations. Direct tests revealed that exDNA also is rapidly synthesized and exported from the root tip. When this exDNA is degraded by the endonuclease DNase 1, root tip resistance to fungal infection is lost; when the polymeric structure is degraded more slowly, by the exonuclease BAL31, loss of resistance to fungal infection is delayed accordingly. The results suggest that root border cells may function in a manner analogous to that which occurs in mammalian cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)741-745
Number of pages5
JournalPlant Science
Volume180
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1 2011

Keywords

  • Border cells
  • DNase
  • Extracellular DNA
  • Root cap
  • Slime
  • Trapping

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Plant Science

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  • Cite this

    Hawes, M. C., Curlango-Rivera, G., Wen, F., White, G. J., VanEtten, H. D., & Xiong, Z. (2011). Extracellular DNA: The tip of root defenses? Plant Science, 180(6), 741-745. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.plantsci.2011.02.007