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Global translational reprogramming is a fundamental layer of immune regulation in plants

Nature volume 545, pages 487490 (25 May 2017) | Download Citation


In the absence of specialized immune cells, the need for plants to reprogram transcription to transition from growth-related activities to defence is well understood1,2. However, little is known about translational changes that occur during immune induction. Using ribosome footprinting, here we perform global translatome profiling on Arabidopsis exposed to the microbe-associated molecular pattern elf18. We find that during this pattern-triggered immunity, translation is tightly regulated and poorly correlated with transcription. Identification of genes with altered translational efficiency leads to the discovery of novel regulators of this immune response. Further investigation of these genes shows that messenger RNA sequence features are major determinants of the observed translational efficiency changes. In the 5′ leader sequences of transcripts with increased translational efficiency, we find a highly enriched messenger RNA consensus sequence, R-motif, consisting of mostly purines. We show that R-motif regulates translation in response to pattern-triggered immunity induction through interaction with poly(A)-binding proteins. Therefore, this study provides not only strong evidence, but also a molecular mechanism, for global translational reprogramming during pattern-triggered immunity in plants.

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This study was supported by grants from National Institutes of Health 5R01 GM069594-11 and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation (through grant GBMF3032) to X. Dong. We thank J. M. Alonso for ein4-1, wei7-4, and ers1-10 seeds; T. Girke, M. Hummel, and J. Bailey-Serres for providing the Ribo-Seq workflow package for data analyses; W. Wang, P. Y. Hsu, and P. N. Benfey for discussing the protocol; R. Zavaliev for the callose staining method; and the Arabidopsis Information Resource for gcn2, erf7, eicbp.b, pab2/4, and pab2/8 seeds. We thank P. Zwack and S. Zebell for comments on the manuscript.

Author information

Author notes

    • Guoyong Xu
    • , George H. Greene
    •  & Heejin Yoo

    These authors contributed equally to this work.


  1. Howard Hughes Medical Institute-Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, Department of Biology, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina 27708, USA

    • Guoyong Xu
    • , George H. Greene
    • , Heejin Yoo
    • , Lijing Liu
    • , Jorge Marqués
    • , Jonathan Motley
    •  & Xinnian Dong


  1. Search for Guoyong Xu in:

  2. Search for George H. Greene in:

  3. Search for Heejin Yoo in:

  4. Search for Lijing Liu in:

  5. Search for Jorge Marqués in:

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  7. Search for Xinnian Dong in:


G.X. and X.D. designed the research. G.X., H.Y. and J. Marqués optimized the footprinting protocol. H.Y. and G.X. performed ethylene-related and polysome profiling experiments. L.L. and G.X. generated the reporter lines. G.X. and J. Motley performed eIF2α phosphorylation assay. G.X. performed the rest of the experiments. G.G. and G.X. performed the bioinformatic analyses and prepared the figures. G.X. and X.D. wrote the manuscript with input from all authors.

Competing interests

A patent based on this study has been filed by Duke University with G.X., G.G. and X.D. as inventors.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Xinnian Dong.

Publisher's note: Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Extended data

Supplementary information

PDF files

  1. 1.

    Supplementary Information

    This file contains Supplementary Results and a Supplementary Figure showing the uncropped immunoblots.

Excel files

  1. 1.

    Supplementary Table 1

    This table shows RSfc, RFfc and TEfc upon elf18 treatment.

  2. 2.

    Supplementary Table 2

    This table contains GO terms for TE-altered genes upon elf18 treatment.

  3. 3.

    Supplementary Table 3

    This table contains information regarding the genes involved in the elf18-ethylene-Peps signalling pathway.

  4. 4.

    Supplementary Table 4

    This table shows uORF-containing genes.

  5. 5.

    Supplementary Table 5

    This table shows R-motif-containing genes in Arabidopsis, Drosophila, mouse and humans.

  6. 6.

    Supplementary Table 6

    This table contains the plasmids, primers and antibodies used in this study.

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