Biotech Updates

Scientists Discover a 'Molecular Glue' that Stimulates Immunity in Plants

October 8, 2010

Scientists at the Michigan State University (MSU) have discovered a plant hormone called jasmonate which glues two proteins together. The study also identifies the receptor's crystal structure to give the first molecular view of plant's mechanism in warding off attacks by insects and pathogens.

"In many respects, this receptor is novel in how it binds its target hormone to switch on gene expression," said Gregg Howe, biochemistry and molecular biology professor at the MSU. "Jasmonate appears to act as molecular glue that sticks two proteins together, which sets off a chain of events leading to the immune response. Determining the structure of the receptor solves a big missing piece of the puzzle."

Now that the scientists know the structure of the receptor, it would be possible for them to design new hormone derivatives or small molecules that can stimulate a desired response. Such compounds could help to improve agricultural productivity by enabling plants to resist pests and diseases.

Read MSU's press release at