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NINJA connects the co-repressor TOPLESS to jasmonate signalling


Jasmonoyl-isoleucine (JA-Ile) is a plant hormone that regulates a broad array of plant defence and developmental processes1,2,3,4,5. JA-Ile-responsive gene expression is regulated by the transcriptional activator MYC2 that interacts physically with the jasmonate ZIM-domain (JAZ) repressor proteins. On perception of JA-Ile, JAZ proteins are degraded and JA-Ile-dependent gene expression is activated6,7. The molecular mechanisms by which JAZ proteins repress gene expression remain unknown. Here we show that the Arabidopsis JAZ proteins recruit the Groucho/Tup1-type co-repressor TOPLESS (TPL)8 and TPL-related proteins (TPRs) through a previously uncharacterized adaptor protein, designated Novel Interactor of JAZ (NINJA). NINJA acts as a transcriptional repressor whose activity is mediated by a functional TPL-binding EAR repression motif. Accordingly, both NINJA and TPL proteins function as negative regulators of jasmonate responses. Our results point to TPL proteins as general co-repressors that affect multiple signalling pathways through the interaction with specific adaptor proteins. This new insight reveals how stress-related and growth-related signalling cascades use common molecular mechanisms to regulate gene expression in plants.

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Figure 1: NINJA interacts with JAZ proteins.
Figure 2: NINJA negatively regulates JA signalling.
Figure 3: NINJA interacts with TPL and functions as a transcriptional repressor.
Figure 4: Model for a general function of TPL proteins in plant hormone signalling.

Accession codes

Primary accessions

Gene Expression Omnibus

Data deposits

The Arabidopsis Genome Initiative accession number for NINJA is At4g28910. All microarray data are deposited in GEO under accession numbers GSM484805 to GSM484812.


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We thank F. Lammertyn and all colleagues of the Functional Proteomics group at VIB and Ecophysiology–Biochemistry–Toxicology, Centre for Proteome Analysis and Mass Spectrometry (EBT-CEPROMA) at Antwerp University for technical assistance; M. I. Puga and J. Paz-Ares for providing the prey cDNA library for Y2H screens; V. Storme for help with statistical analysis; J. Van Leene and M. Karimi for discussions; and M. De Cock for help in preparing the manuscript. This work was supported by the Research Foundation–Flanders (predoctoral fellowship to L.P.), the Agency for Innovation by Science and Technology in Flanders (‘Generisch Basisonderzoek aan de Universiteiten’, and predoctoral fellowships to S.T. and J.G.), the Special Research Fund of Ghent University (postdoctoral fellowship to W.G.), the National Institutes of Health (to J.L.) and the Spanish Ministerio de Ciencia y Tecnología and the Comunidad de Madrid (to R.S.).

Author Contributions L.P., G.F.B., J.G., S.T., W.G., A.C.P., J.M.C., R.V.B., J.S., E.G, G.G.-C. and J.A.L. performed experiments and analysed the results. L.P., W.G., E.W., J.A.L., G.D.J., R.S. and A.G. planned experiments and analyses. L.P., D.I., J.A.L., R.S. and A.G. wrote the manuscript. All authors commented on the results and the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Alain Goossens.

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Pauwels, L., Barbero, G., Geerinck, J. et al. NINJA connects the co-repressor TOPLESS to jasmonate signalling. Nature 464, 788–791 (2010).

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