MAP kinase signalling cascade in Arabidopsis innate immunity


There is remarkable conservation in the recognition of pathogen-associated molecular patterns (PAMPs) by innate immune responses of plants, insects and mammals. We developed an Arabidopsis thaliana leaf cell system based on the induction of early-defence gene transcription by flagellin, a highly conserved component of bacterial flagella that functions as a PAMP in plants and mammals. Here we identify a complete plant MAP kinase cascade (MEKK1, MKK4/MKK5 and MPK3/MPK6) and WRKY22/WRKY29 transcription factors that function downstream of the flagellin receptor FLS2, a leucine-rich-repeat (LRR) receptor kinase. Activation of this MAPK cascade confers resistance to both bacterial and fungal pathogens, suggesting that signalling events initiated by diverse pathogens converge into a conserved MAPK cascade.

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Figure 1: Early-defence gene activation by flg22.
Figure 2: Flg22 activates MPK3 and MPK6 through FLS2.
Figure 3: MKK4 and MKK5 activate MPK3/MPK6 and early-defence genes.
Figure 4: MEKK1 initiates the flg22 MAPK cascade.
Figure 5: The flg22 MAPK cascade and specific WRKYs are important for Arabidopsis defence.
Figure 6: Model of innate immune signalling activated by LRR receptors in Arabidopsis, mammals and Drosophila.


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We thank C. Xiang for the pCB302 minibinary vector, O. R. Patharkar and J. Cushman for the DsRed-CSP1 plasmid; S. Volko and J. Stone for sharing unpublished information; S.-H. Cheng, B. Moore and I. Hwang for technical advice; W.-C. Chen for help in bioinformatics; and S. Ramu and F. Rolland for critical reading of the manuscript. This work was supported by a NSF plant genome project grant to J.S. and F.M.A., a USDA grant to J.S., and a NIH grant to F.M.A. T.A. was supported in part by fellowships from the Toyobo Biotechnology Foundation and the Uehara Memorial Foundation.

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Correspondence to Jen Sheen.

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Asai, T., Tena, G., Plotnikova, J. et al. MAP kinase signalling cascade in Arabidopsis innate immunity. Nature 415, 977–983 (2002).

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