Plant Defense Protein, Now in 3D

A team led by Pei Zhou, Professor of Biochemistry, and Xinnian Dong, Arts and Sciences Distinguished Professor of Biology and an HHMI investigator, uncovered the structure of NPR1, a protein shaped like a gliding bird and master regulator of plant immunity. Discovered by Dong 25 years ago, NPR1 was well-known for its crucial role in regulating plant immunity, but its 3D structure has remained elusive until now. The importance of having a clear image of this protein goes well beyond appreciating its beauty: understanding NPR1’s structure and function opens an avenue for scientists to engineer and improve crops resistance to plant diseases and parasites.