Different Kinases Regulate Plant Immune Responses in Tobacco Plants

Jenn Hoskins
22nd May, 2024

Different Kinases Regulate Plant Immune Responses in Tobacco Plants

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

Key Findings

  • The study from Wageningen University focuses on how plants use cell-surface receptors and kinases to detect and respond to pathogens
  • Researchers found that the kinases SOBIR1 and BAK1 directly phosphorylate each other, which is crucial for their activity in plant immunity
  • Specific kinases in the RLCK-VII subfamilies regulate the plant's immune response by controlling reactive oxygen species bursts and resistance to certain pathogens
Plant immunity is a critical area of study, as plants face constant threats from microbial pathogens. Understanding how plants recognize and respond to these threats can lead to improved crop resistance and agricultural sustainability. A recent study from Wageningen University[1] has provided new insights into the molecular mechanisms underlying plant immunity, specifically focusing on the role of cell-surface receptors and their associated kinases. The study centers on the leucine-rich repeat (LRR)-receptor-like kinases SOBIR1 and BAK1, which are essential for the functionality of the tomato LRR-receptor-like protein Cf-4. Cf-4 detects the secreted effector Avr4 from the pathogenic fungus Fulvia fulva. The researchers discovered that the kinase domains of SOBIR1 and BAK1 directly phosphorylate each other, a process critical for their activity. They identified specific residues, Thr522 and Tyr469, in the kinase domain of Nicotiana benthamiana SOBIR1 that are crucial for its kinase activity and interaction with signaling partners. This finding builds on earlier studies that have highlighted the complexity of plant immune responses. For instance, it is known that plants employ two main modes of innate immunity: pattern-triggered immunity (PTI) and effector-triggered immunity (ETI)[2]. PTI is activated by pathogen-associated molecular patterns (PAMPs) recognized by pattern recognition receptors (PRRs)[3], while ETI is triggered by specific pathogen effectors. Both PTI and ETI share downstream signaling pathways, but ETI responses are typically more robust and prolonged[2]. The new study expands on these concepts by demonstrating the specific roles of receptor-like cytoplasmic kinases (RLCKs) downstream of the SOBIR1/BAK1 immune complex. By knocking out multiple genes in different RLCK-VII subfamilies in Nicotiana benthamiana, the researchers showed that members of RLCK-VII-6, -7, and -8 differentially regulate the Avr4/Cf-4-triggered biphasic burst of reactive oxygen species (ROS). ROS bursts are a hallmark of plant immune responses, serving as signaling molecules that activate further defense mechanisms. Moreover, the study found that members of the RLCK-VII-7 subfamily play an essential role in resistance against the oomycete pathogen Phytophthora palmivora. This discovery is significant as it provides molecular evidence for the specific roles of RLCKs in plant immunity, highlighting their importance in the signaling pathways downstream of cell-surface receptors like SOBIR1 and BAK1. These findings align with the evolving understanding of plant immune responses. Previous models have categorized plant immunity based on the type of danger signal recognized or the strength of the defense response[4]. However, recent advances suggest that these classifications are not as clear-cut, leading to proposals for new models that define plant immunity based on the site of microbe recognition—either extracellular or intracellular[4]. The current study supports this shift by showing how extracellular receptors and their associated kinases orchestrate complex immune responses. In summary, the research from Wageningen University provides crucial insights into the molecular interactions between cell-surface receptors and their downstream kinases in plant immunity. By elucidating the roles of SOBIR1, BAK1, and RLCKs, the study enhances our understanding of how plants detect and respond to pathogenic threats, paving the way for potential agricultural applications to improve crop resistance.

GeneticsBiochemPlant Science


Main Study

1) Receptor-like cytoplasmic kinases of different subfamilies differentially regulate SOBIR1/BAK1-mediated immune responses in Nicotiana benthamiana.

Published 21st May, 2024


Related Studies

2) Comparing signaling mechanisms engaged in pattern-triggered and effector-triggered immunity.


3) Plant pattern recognition receptor complexes at the plasma membrane.


4) Plant Immunity: Thinking Outside and Inside the Box.


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