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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2006 Jan 3;103(1):230-5. Epub 2005 Dec 27.

Cinnamoyl-CoA reductase, a key enzyme in lignin biosynthesis, is an effector of small GTPase Rac in defense signaling in rice.

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Laboratory of Plant Molecular Genetics, Nara Institute of Science and Technology, 8916-5 Takayama, Ikoma 630-0192, Japan.


OsRac1, one of the Rac/Rop family of small GTPases, plays important roles in defense responses, including a role in the production of reactive oxygen species mediated by NADPH oxidase. We have identified an effector of OsRac1, namely rice (Oryza sativa) cinnamoyl-CoA reductase 1 (OsCCR1), an enzyme involved in lignin biosynthesis. Lignin, which is polymerized through peroxidase activity by using H(2)O(2) in the cell wall, is an important factor in plant defense responses, because it presents an undegradable mechanical barrier to most pathogens. Expression of OsCCR1 was induced by a sphingolipid elicitor, suggesting that OsCCR1 participates in defense signaling. In in vitro interaction and two-hybrid experiments, OsRac1 was shown to bind OsCCR1 in a GTP-dependent manner. Moreover, the interaction of OsCCR1 with OsRac1 led to the enzymatic activation of OsCCR1 in vitro. Transgenic cell cultures expressing the constitutively active OsRac1 accumulated lignin through enhanced CCR activity and increased reactive oxygen species production. Thus, it is likely that OsRac1 controls lignin synthesis through regulation of both NADPH oxidase and OsCCR1 activities during defense responses in rice.

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