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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2012 Jan 3;109(1):297-302. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1112840108. Epub 2011 Nov 15.

Brassinosteroids modulate the efficiency of plant immune responses to microbe-associated molecular patterns.

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Plant Biology Laboratory and Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Salk Institute for Biological Studies, La Jolla, CA 92037, USA.


Metazoans and plants use pattern recognition receptors (PRRs) to sense conserved microbial-associated molecular patterns (MAMPs) in the extracellular environment. In plants, the bacterial MAMPs flagellin and elongation factor Tu (EF-Tu) activate distinct, phylogenetically related cell surface pattern recognition receptors of the leucine-rich repeat receptor kinase (LRR-RK) family called FLS2 and EF-Tu receptor, respectively. BAK1 is an LRR-RK coreceptor for both FLS2 and EF-Tu receptor. BAK1 is also a coreceptor for the plant brassinosteroid (BR) receptor, the LRR-RK BRI1. Binding of BR to BRI1 primarily promotes cell elongation. Here, we tune the BR pathway response to establish how plant cells can generate functionally different cellular outputs in response to MAMPs and pathogens. We demonstrate that BR can act antagonistically or synergistically with responses to MAMPs. We further show that the synergistic activities of BRs on MAMP responses require BAK1. Our results highlight the importance of plant steroid homeostasis as a critical step in the establishment of plant immunity. We propose that tradeoffs associated with plasticity in the face of infection are layered atop plant steroid developmental programs.

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