Towards an Arabidopsis immune response network
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Plants are continuously under attack by a vast array of pathogens including fungi, bacteria, oomycetes and viruses. These different pathogens attack the plant in different ways. They can break down plant tissue using phytotoxins or form specialized structures, haustoria, in order to invade the plant tissue and exploit their host. These strategies are specific for necrotrophs and biotrophs, respectively. Even though pathogens have developed strategies for attacking plants, infection is the exception and immunity is the rule. Based on the type of attacker the plant starts producing a specific combination of hormones in order to deal with this specific attacker and because plants often have to deal with simultaneous attacks a highly interconnected network is needed. The sheer amount of hormones that are involved in the immune response and the amount of interactions between their response pathways point to the fact that the plant immune system is indeed a complex highly interconnected network. Besides hormones there are many more proteins involved, which makes the network even more complex. Classical experiments like mutant screens and knock downs of specific genes have identified many key immune response genes. These studies have elucidated many individual interactions between parts of the network. In order to get a better understanding of the whole network under different circumstances a larger scale network analysis is needed for the Arabidopsis immune response network and these methods are just beginning to be used. These systems approaches are needed to see what properties underlie the network en how the different parts interact. This will improve the understanding of the molecular dialogue between plants and pathogens and reveal the architecture of the plant immune network. The different systems approaches used for revealing parts of the plant immune response together with how to incorporate this data to generate an immune response network are discussed. This shows that incorporating this data is non-trivial but can help elucidate new information about the network, like how host-pathogen co-evolution shaped the plant immune response network.