Post-translational modifications in effectors and plant proteins involved in host–pathogen conflicts

J. Tahir, M. Rashid, A. J. Afzal

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Molecular interplay between two species is largely driven by protein–protein interactions and protein modifications that set the pace of co-evolution in these species. During host–pathogen interactions, proteins involved in virulence and defence impart tempospatial dynamic post-translational modifications (PTMs) to gain advantage for the causative species. Pathogens mainly cause disease in plant hosts by secreting elicitors (peptides and small molecules) or proteins in the inter- and intracellular space of host cells. These pathogen proteins have evolved a wide array of sophisticated mechanisms to manipulate host responses, including resistance. Through a set of diverse events ranging from PTMs to post-translational oligomerization, these proteins are able to enhance virulence and suppress the otherwise elaborate plant immune system. Similarly, PTMs adapted by host proteins often lead to the activation of a robust defence response. Insights into the PTMs of pathogen and host proteins are therefore germane to the understanding of the co-evolutionary arms race. This review summarizes the characterization of PTMs in pathogen effectors and their target host proteins. Based on this, a metaphorical view of host–pathogen conflicts is proposed, where PTMs act as molecular pivots in a 3D combinatorial game model – a novel abstraction of the arms race, where these molecular pivots restore the balance of competition between the two organisms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)628-644
Number of pages17
JournalPlant Pathology
Issue number4
StatePublished - May 2019


  • Rubik's cube model
  • co-evolutionary arms race
  • effector and host proteins
  • plant–pathogen conflict
  • post-translational modifications

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Genetics
  • Plant Science
  • Horticulture


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