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Plant J. 2011 Aug;67(3):459-71. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-313X.2011.04609.x. Epub 2011 Jun 6.

The receptor-like kinase SlSERK1 is required for Mi-1-mediated resistance to potato aphids in tomato.

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Department of Nematology, University of California, Riverside, CA 92521, USA.


The plant receptor-like kinase somatic embryogenesis receptor kinase 3 (SERK3)/brassinosteroid insensitive 1-associated kinase 1 (BAK1) is required for pathogen-associated molecular pattern (PAMP)-triggered immunity (PTI). Here we show that a distinct member of the SERK family, SERK1, is required for the full functioning of Mi-1, a nucleotide binding leucine-rich repeat (NB-LRR) resistance protein. Mi-1 confers resistance to Meloidogyne spp. (root-knot nematodes, RKNs) and three phloem-feeding insects, including Macrosiphum euphorbiae (potato aphid). SERK1 was identified in a tobacco rattle virus (TRV)-based virus-induced gene silencing (VIGS) screen in Nicotiana benthamiana. The screen was based on the suppression of a pest-independent hypersensitive response triggered by a constitutively active form of Mi-1, Mi-DS4. To assess the role of SERK1 in Mi-1-mediated resistance, Solanum lycopersicum (tomato) SlSERK genes were cloned. Three SlSERK members were identified with homologies to Arabidopsis AtSERK1 or AtSERK3/BAK1, and were named SlSERK1, SlSERK3A and SlSERK3B. SlSERK1 is ubiquitously expressed in tomato. Reducing SlSERK1 transcript levels in resistant plants, using gene-specific TRV-SERK1 VIGS, revealed a role for SlSERK1 in Mi-1-mediated resistance to potato aphids, but not to RKNs. In addition, Mi-1-dependent SlWRKY72 gene regulation was compromised in SlSERK1-silenced plants, placing SlSERK1 in the Mi-1 signaling pathway. Silencing SlSERK1 in a susceptible tomato background did not reduce the susceptibility to aphids, indicating that SlSERK1 is unlikely to be an essential virulence target. SlSERK1 is an active kinase, mainly localized at the plasma membrane. This work identifies a critical early component of Mi-1 signaling, and demonstrates a role for SlSERK1 in NB-LRR-mediated immunity.

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