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Plant J. 2000 Dec;24(6):837-47.

Identification of genes encoding receptor-like protein kinases as possible targets of pathogen- and salicylic acid-induced WRKY DNA-binding proteins in Arabidopsis.

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Department of Microbiology, Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, University of Idaho, Moscow, Idaho 83844-3052, USA.


To understand how plant host genes are regulated during the activation of plant defence responses, we are studying a group of pathogen- and salicylic acid (SA)-induced DNA-binding proteins containing the novel WRKY domain. To identify downstream target genes of these WRKY proteins, we have searched the Arabidopsis genome and identified four closely linked genes on chromosome IV that contain an unusually large number of the W-box sequences [(T)TGAC(C/T)] recognized by WRKY proteins within a few hundred base pairs upstream of their coding regions. All four genes encode proteins characteristic of receptor-like protein kinases (RLK), each consisting of an N-terminal signal sequence, an extracellular receptor domain, a single transmembrane domain and a C-terminal cytoplasmic serine/threonine protein kinase domain. All four RLK genes were induced by treatment with SA or infection by a bacterial pathogen. Studies with one of the RLK genes (RLK4) indicated that a cluster of W-box elements in its promoter region were recognized by both purified WRKY proteins and SA-induced W-box binding activities from SA-treated Arabidopsis plants. Further analysis using the RLK4 gene promoter fused to a reporter gene in transgenic Arabidopsis indicated that the consensus WRKY protein-binding sites in the RLK4 gene promoter were important for the inducible expression of the reporter gene. These results indicate that pathogen- and SA-induced W-box binding proteins regulate not only genes encoding defence proteins with direct or indirect anti-microbial activities, but also genes encoding proteins with regulatory functions.

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