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Plant Cell. 2008 Jul;20(7):1964-83. doi: 10.1105/tpc.108.059477. Epub 2008 Jul 3.

Tomato protein kinase 1b mediates signaling of plant responses to necrotrophic fungi and insect herbivory.

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  • 1Department of Botany and Plant Pathology, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana 47907-2054, USA.


The tomato protein kinase 1 (TPK1b) gene encodes a receptor-like cytoplasmic kinase localized to the plasma membrane. Pathogen infection, mechanical wounding, and oxidative stress induce expression of TPK1b, and reducing TPK1b gene expression through RNA interference (RNAi) increases tomato susceptibility to the necrotrophic fungus Botrytis cinerea and to feeding by larvae of tobacco hornworm (Manduca sexta) but not to the bacterial pathogen Pseudomonas syringae. TPK1b RNAi seedlings are also impaired in ethylene (ET) responses. Notably, susceptibility to Botrytis and insect feeding is correlated with reduced expression of the proteinase inhibitor II gene in response to Botrytis and 1-aminocyclopropane-1-carboxylic acid, the natural precursor of ET, but wild-type expression in response to mechanical wounding and methyl-jasmonate. TPK1b functions independent of JA biosynthesis and response genes required for resistance to Botrytis. TPK1b is a functional kinase with autophosphorylation and Myelin Basis Protein phosphorylation activities. Three residues in the activation segment play a critical role in the kinase activity and in vivo signaling function of TPK1b. In sum, our findings establish a signaling role for TPK1b in an ET-mediated shared defense mechanism for resistance to necrotrophic fungi and herbivorous insects.

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