Exploitation of natural genetic diversity to study plant-virus interactions: what can we learn from Arabidopsis thaliana?
Plants possess a multilayered defense response, known as plant innate immunity, to infection by a wide variety of pathogens. Lectins, sugar binding proteins, play essential roles in the innate immunity of animal cells, but the role of lectins in plant defense is not clear. This study analyzed the resistance of certain Arabidopsis thaliana ecotypes to a potexvirus, plantago asiatica mosaic virus (PlAMV). Map-based positional cloning revealed that the lectin gene JACALIN-TYPE LECTIN REQUIRED FOR POTEXVIRUS RESISTANCE1 (JAX1) is responsible for the resistance. JAX1-mediated resistance did not show the properties of conventional resistance (R) protein-mediated resistance and was independent of plant defense hormone signaling. Heterologous expression of JAX1 in Nicotiana benthamiana showed that JAX1 interferes with infection by other tested potexviruses but not with plant viruses from different genera, indicating the broad but specific resistance to potexviruses conferred by JAX1. In contrast with the lectin gene RESTRICTED TEV MOVEMENT1, which inhibits the systemic movement of potyviruses, which are distantly related to potexviruses, JAX1 impairs the accumulation of PlAMV RNA at the cellular level. The existence of lectin genes that show a variety of levels of virus resistance, their targets, and their properties, which are distinct from those of known R genes, suggests the generality of lectin-mediated resistance in plant innate immunity.