Plant lectins are proteins that reversibly bind carbohydrates and are assumed to play an important role in plant development and resistance. Through the binding of carbohydrate ligands, lectins are involved in the perception of environmental signals and their translation into phenotypical responses. These processes require down-stream signaling cascades, often mediated by interacting proteins. Fusing the respective genes of two interacting proteins can be a way to increase the efficiency of this process. Most recently, proteins containing jacalin-related lectin (JRL) domains became a subject of plant resistance responses research. A meta-data analysis of fusion proteins containing JRL domains across different kingdoms revealed diverse partner domains ranging from kinases to toxins. Among them, proteins containing a JRL domain and a dirigent domain occur exclusively within monocotyledonous plants and show an unexpected high range of family member expansion compared to other JRL-fusion proteins. Rice, wheat, and barley plants overexpressing OsJAC1, a member of this family, are resistant against important fungal pathogens. We discuss the possibility that JRL domains also function as a decoy in fusion proteins and help to alert plants of the presence of attacking pathogens.
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