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Cell Rep. 2012 Jun 28;1(6):639-47. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2012.05.008. Epub 2012 Jun 15.

The Arabidopsis NPR1 protein is a receptor for the plant defense hormone salicylic acid.

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Department of Biological Sciences, Brock University, St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada L2S 3A1.


Salicylic acid (SA) is an essential hormone in plant immunity, but its receptor has remained elusive for decades. The transcriptional coregulator NPR1 is central to the activation of SA-dependent defense genes, and we previously found that Cys(521) and Cys(529) of Arabidopsis NPR1's transactivation domain are critical for coactivator function. Here, we demonstrate that NPR1 directly binds SA, but not inactive structural analogs, with an affinity similar to that of other hormone-receptor interactions and consistent with in vivo Arabidopsis SA concentrations. Binding of SA occurs through Cys(521/529) via the transition metal copper. Mechanistically, our results suggest that binding of SA causes a conformational change in NPR1 that is accompanied by the release of the C-terminal transactivation domain from the N-terminal autoinhibitory BTB/POZ domain. While NPR1 is already known as a link between the SA signaling molecule and defense-gene activation, we now show that NPR1 is the receptor for SA.

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