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Plant Cell. 1999 Feb;11(2):273-87.

Rapid Avr9- and Cf-9 -dependent activation of MAP kinases in tobacco cell cultures and leaves: convergence of resistance gene, elicitor, wound, and salicylate responses.

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  • 1Sainsbury Laboratory, John Innes Centre, Colney Lane, Norwich NR4 7UH, United Kingdom.


The Cf-9 resistance (R) gene from tomato confers resistance to the fungal pathogen Cladosporium fulvum expressing the corresponding, pathogen-derived avirulence gene product Avr9. To understand how an initial R/Avr recognition event is transmitted and triggers the induction of plant defenses, we investigated early Avr9/Cf-9-dependent activation of protein kinases in transgenic tobacco expressing the Cf-9 gene. We identified two protein kinases of 46 and 48 kD, using myelin basic protein as substrate, that became rapidly activated in a strictly gene-for-gene manner within 2 to 5 min after Avr9 elicitation in both Cf9 tobacco plants and derived cell cultures. Studies with pharmacological inhibitors and effectors revealed that Ca2+ influx and a phosphorylation event(s) are required for kinase activation, but neither enzyme is involved in the Avr9-dependent synthesis of active oxygen species. The activation of both kinases is achieved via post-translational mechanisms, and the activation but not inactivation step includes tyrosine phosphorylation. Using specific antibodies, we found that the 46- and 48-kD kinases were similiar to WIPK (for wound-induced protein kinase) and SIPK (for salicylic acid-induced protein kinase), two previously characterized mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinases from tobacco. In addition, Cf9 tobacco plants and cell cultures showed an Avr9-dependent accumulation of the WIPK transcript. Cf9 tobacco suspension cultures are thus a unique system in which to analyze the earliest events in R gene function. These data indicate that (1) the R/Avr-mediated induction of plant defense is accomplished via several parallel signaling mechanisms, and (2) R/Avr-dependent signal transduction pathways are interlinked at MAP kinases with responses of plants not only to non-race-specific elicitors but also to abiotic stimuli, such as wounding and mechanical stress.

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