Crop Biotech Update

Scientists Uncover Signalling Pathway of Long-Established Immune Receptor

February 10, 2016

A team of scientists at The Sainsbury Laboratory (TSL) and Wageningen University has uncovered one of the mechanisms of tomato plants' defense against disease-causing pathogens. Plants are under constant attack by pathogens such as bacteria and fungi. To prevent infections, plants have an innate immune system, which detects pathogens and initiates defense.

In 1994, Professor Jonathan Jones and his group at TSL identified Cf-9, a tomato gene that encodes a receptor-like protein which confers resistance to a specific strain of the tomato leaf mold fungus (Cladosporium fulvum). Receptor-like proteins, together with receptor kinases, are the two main types of plant immune receptors found on the surface of plant cells. Unlike receptor kinases, the receptor-like proteins have no signalling domain within the cell. It has therefore been a long-standing question how receptor-like proteins can activate intracellular signalling cascades.

The TSL team used live-cell imaging, gene silencing and coimmunoprecipitation to provide direct evidence of an interaction between Cf-4, a receptor-like protein, and BAK1/SERK3, a co-receptor kinase, thus finally answering this long-standing question by revealing the mechanism that initiates the Cf-4-induced immune response in tomato.

For more details, read the news release at the TSL website.