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The tomato resistance genes Cf-4 and Cf-9 confer specific, hypersensitive response-associated recognition of Cladosporium carrying the avirulence genes Avr4 and Avr9, respectively. Cf-4 and Cf-9 encode type I transmembrane proteins with extracellular leucine-rich repeats (LRRs). Compared with Cf-9, Cf-4 lacks two LRRs and differs in 78 amino acid residues. To investigate the relevance of these differences for specificity, we exchanged domains between Cf-4 and Cf-9, and mutant constructs were tested for mediating the hypersensitive response by transient coexpression with either Avr4 or Avr9. We show that the number of LRRs is essential for both Cf-4 and Cf-9 function. In addition, Cf-9 specificity resides entirely in the LRR domain and appears to be distributed over several distant LRRs. In contrast, Cf-4 specificity determinants reside in the N-terminal LRR-flanking domain and three amino acid residues in LRRs 13, 14, and 16. These residues are present at putative solvent-exposed positions, and all are required for full Cf-4 function. Finally, we show that Cf-9 carrying the specificity determinants of Cf-4 has recognitional specificity for AVR4. The data indicate that diversifying selection of solvent-exposed residues has been a more important factor in the generation of Cf-4 specificity than has sequence exchange between Cf-4 progenitor genes. The fact that most variant residues in Cf-4 are not essential for Cf-4 specificity indicates that the diverse decoration of R proteins is not fully adapted to confer recognition of a certain avirulence determinant but likely provides a basis for a versatile, adaptive recognition system.


Journal article


Plant Cell

Publication Date





273 - 285


Amino Acid Sequence, Base Sequence, Cladosporium, DNA, Plant, Fungal Proteins, Genes, Plant, Genetic Variation, Lycopersicon esculentum, Membrane Glycoproteins, Molecular Sequence Data, Mutation, Plant Diseases, Plant Proteins, Protein Structure, Tertiary, Repetitive Sequences, Amino Acid, Sequence Deletion, Sequence Homology, Amino Acid, Virulence