Multicellular organisms activate immunity upon recognition of pathogen-associated molecular patterns (PAMPs). Chitin is the major component of fungal cell walls, and chitin oligosaccharides act as PAMPs in plant and mammalian cells. Microbial pathogens deliver effector proteins to suppress PAMP-triggered host immunity and to establish infection. Here, we show that the LysM domain-containing effector protein Ecp6 of the fungal plant pathogen Cladosporium fulvum mediates virulence through perturbation of chitin-triggered host immunity. During infection, Ecp6 sequesters chitin oligosaccharides that are released from the cell walls of invading hyphae to prevent elicitation of host immunity. This may represent a common strategy of host immune suppression by fungal pathogens, because LysM effectors are widely conserved in the fungal kingdom.
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