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Dev Cell. 2005 Jun;8(6):855-65.

Autoregulation and homodimerization are involved in the activation of the plant steroid receptor BRI1.

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Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Plant Biology Laboratory, The Salk Institute for Biological Studies, La Jolla, California 92037, USA.


The leucine-rich-repeat receptor serine/threonine kinase, BRI1, is a cell-surface receptor for brassinosteroids (BRs), the steroid hormones of plants, yet its activation mechanism is unknown. Here, we report a unique autoregulatory mechanism of BRI1 activation. Removal of BRI1's C terminus leads to a hypersensitive receptor, indicated by suppression of dwarfism of BR-deficient and BR-perception mutants and by enhanced BR signaling as a result of elevated phosphorylation of BRI1. Several sites in the C-terminal region can be phosphorylated in vitro, and transgenic Arabidopsis expressing BRI1 mutated at these sites demonstrates an essential role of phosphorylation in BRI1 activation. BRI1 is a ligand-independent homo-oligomer, as evidenced by the transphosphorylation of BRI1 kinase in vitro, the dominant-negative effect of a kinase-inactive BRI1 in transgenic Arabidopsis, and coimmunoprecipitation experiments. Our results support a BRI1-activation model that involves inhibition of kinase activity by its C-terminal domain, which is relieved upon ligand binding to the extracellular domain.

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