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Plant J. 2010 May;62(3):367-78. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-313X.2010.04155.x. Epub 2010 Jan 25.

Early signaling through the Arabidopsis pattern recognition receptors FLS2 and EFR involves Ca-associated opening of plasma membrane anion channels.

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Julius-von-Sachs Institute of Biosciences, Molecular Plant Physiology and Biophysics, University of Würzburg, Julius-von-Sachs-Platz 2, 97082 Würzburg, Germany.


The perception of microbes by plants involves highly conserved molecular signatures that are absent from the host and that are collectively referred to as microbe-associated molecular patterns (MAMPs). The Arabidopsis pattern recognition receptors FLAGELLIN-SENSING 2 (FLS2) and EF-Tu receptor (EFR) represent genetically well studied paradigms that mediate defense against bacterial pathogens. Stimulation of these receptors through their cognate ligands, bacterial flagellin or bacterial elongation factor Tu, leads to a defense response and ultimately to increased resistance. However, little is known about the early signaling pathway of these receptors. Here, we characterize this early response in situ, using an electrophysiological approach. In line with a release of negatively charged molecules, voltage recordings of microelectrode-impaled mesophyll cells and root hairs of Col-0 Arabidopsis plants revealed rapid, dose-dependent membrane potential depolarizations in response to either flg22 or elf18. Using ion-selective microelectrodes, pronounced anion currents were recorded upon application of flg22 and elf18, indicating that the signaling cascades initiated by each of the two receptors converge on the same plasma membrane ion channels. Combined calcium imaging and electrophysiological measurements revealed that the depolarization was superimposed by an increase in cytosolic calcium that was indispensable for depolarization. NADPH oxidase mutants were still depolarized upon elicitor stimulation, suggesting a reactive oxygen species-independent membrane potential response. Furthermore, electrical signaling in response to either flg22 or elf 18 critically depends on the activity of the FLS2-associated receptor-like kinase BAK1, suggesting that activation of FLS2 and EFR lead to BAK1-dependent, calcium-associated plasma membrane anion channel opening as an initial step in the pathogen defense pathway.

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