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Dynamic Changes In The Localization Of MAPK Cascade Components Controlling Pathogenesis-related (PR) Gene Expression During Innate Immunity In Parsley*

J. Lee, J. Rudd, V. Macioszek, D. Scheel
Published 2004 · Biology, Medicine

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The activation of mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) cascades is an important mechanism for stress adaptation through the control of gene expression in mammals, yeast, and plants. MAPK activation has emerged as a common mechanism by which plants trigger pathogen defense responses following innate immune recognition of potential microbial pathogens. We are studying the non-host plant defense response of parsley to attempted infection by Phytophthora species using an experimental system of cultured parsley cells and the Phytophthora-derived Pep-13 peptide elicitor. Following receptor-mediated recognition of this peptide, parsley cells trigger a multifaceted innate immune response, involving the activation of three MAPKs that have been shown to function in the oxidative burst-independent activation of defense gene expression. Using this same experimental model we now report the identification of a MAPK kinase (MAPKK) that functions upstream in this pathway. This kinase, referred to as PcMKK5 based on sequence similarity to Arabidopsis thaliana AtMKK5, is activated in parsley cells following Pep-13 treatment and functions as an in vivo activator of all three MAPKs previously shown to be involved in this response. Gain- and loss-of-function mutant versions of PcMKK5, when used in protoplast co-transfection assays, demonstrated that kinase activity of PcMKK5 is required for PR gene promoter activation following Pep-13 treatment. Furthermore, using specific antibodies and immunofluorescent labeling, we demonstrate that activation of MAPKs in parsley cells correlates with an increase in their nuclear localization, which is not detectable for activated PcMKK5. These results suggest that activation of gene expression through MAPK cascades during innate immune responses in plants involves dynamic changes in the localization of the proteins involved, which may reflect the distribution of key protein substrates for the activated MAPKs.
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