Plant pathogens deliver a variety of virulence factors to host cells to suppress basal defence responses and create suitable environments for their propagation. Plants have in turn evolved disease resistance genes whose products detect the virulence factors as a signal of invasion and activate effective defence responses. Understanding how a virulence effector contributes to virulence on susceptible hosts but becomes an avirulence factor that triggers defence responses on resistance hosts has been a major focus in plant research. Recent studies have shown that a growing list of pathogen-encoded effectors functions as proteases that are secreted into plant cells to modify host proteins. In addition, several plant proteases have been found to function in activation of the defence mechanism. These findings reveal that post-translational modification of host proteins through proteolytic processing is a widely used mechanism in regulating the plant defence response.
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