The tobacco N protein recognizes the helicase domain (p50) of the Tobacco mosaic virus (TMV) replicase as an elicitor and mediates hypersensitive response (HR). We obtained two cDNA clones encoding novel N-like (NL) proteins NL-C26 and NL-B69 from Nicotiana tabacum cv. Samsun NN. NL-C26 and NL-B69 had a Toll-interleukin-1 receptor/nucleotide-binding site/leucine-rich repeat (TIR-NBS-LRR) structure and showed 78% and 73% identities to N, respectively. The NL-C26 and NL-B69 genes were also expressed in N. tabacum cv. Samsun nn, which lacks the N gene. Unlike N, NL-C26 and NL-B69, when coexpressed with p50, failed to induce HR on the sites of agroinfiltration in Samsun nn leaves. However, the elicitor-dependent HR in Samsun nn was induced efficiently by chimeric N proteins with the continuous TIR-NBS domains of NL-C26 and NL-B69. On the other hand, the efficiency of HR induction varied significantly among chimeric N proteins with either of the TIR and NBS domains of the NL proteins. In contrast, chimeras carrying the LRR domains of the NL proteins did not induce HR. Thus, the TIR-NBS domains of NL-C26 and NL-B69 could functionally adapt to the LRR domain of N, which may determine the specificity for the elicitor. We speculate that the NL genes are potential HR-inducing resistance genes for undetermined pathogens other than TMV.
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