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Summary

Introgression of resistance trait Cf-4 from wild tomato species into tomato cultivar MoneyMaker (MM-Cf0) has resulted in the near-isogenic line MM-Cf4 that confers resistance to the fungal tomato pathogen Cladosporium fulvum. At the Cf-4 locus, five homologues of Cladosporium resistance gene Cf-9 (Hcr9s) are present. While Hcr9-4D represents the functional Cf-4 resistance gene matching Avr4, Hcr9-4E confers resistance towards C. fulvum by mediating recognition of the novel avirulence determinant Avr4E. Here, we report the isolation of the Avr4E gene, which encodes a cysteine-rich protein of 101 amino acids that is secreted by C. fulvum during colonization of the apoplastic space of tomato leaves. By complementation we show that Avr4E confers avirulence to strains of C. fulvum that are normally virulent on Hcr9-4E-transgenic plants, indicating that Avr4E is a genuine, race-specific avirulence determinant. Strains of C. fulvum evade Hcr9-4E-mediated resistance either by a deletion of the Avr4E gene or by production of a stable Avr4E mutant protein that carries two amino acid substitutions, Phe82Leu and Met93Thr. Moreover, we demonstrate by site-directed mutagenesis that the single amino acid substitution Phe82Leu in Avr4E is sufficient to evade Hcr9-4E-mediated resistance.