Magnus Wohlfahrt Rasmussen:
MAP Kinase 4 substrates and plant innate immunity

Date: 31-12-2015    Supervisor: Morten Petersen

Multi-layered defense responses are activated in plants upon recognition of invading pathogens. Transmembrane receptors recognize conserved pathogen-associated molecular patterns and activate MAP kinase cascades, which regulate changes in gene expression to produce appropriate immune responses. For example, Arabidopsis MPK4 regulates the expression of a subset of defense genes via at least one WRKY transcription factor. We report here that MPK4 is found in complexes in vivo with (i) PAT1, component of the mRNA decapping machinery, (ii) AOC3, a component in the biosynthesis pathway of JA and (iii) eIF4E, a component in the translational initiation protein complex. For PAT1 and eIF4E we show that MPK4 phosphorylates specific Ser and Thr residues in vitro, and that MPK4 also phosphorylates AOC3 at an unmapped residue. Specific in vivo phosphorylation for PAT1 is shown in response to pathogen recognition, which also induce its localization to cytoplasmic processing bodies. All three proteins; PAT1, AOC3 and eIF4E also interacts with MPK4 in vivo although the functional outcome of these interactions are still elusive. The thesis comprise a general introduction to plant innate immunity followed by two review articles “MAP kinase cascades in Arabidopsis innate immunity” published in Frontiers in Plant Science and “mRNA decay in plant immunity” under revision for Cellular and Molecular Life Science. Together these sections gives a comprehensive overview of Arabidopsis defense signaling. The results are presents as one manuscript “The mRNA decay factor PAT1 functions in a pathway including MAP kinase 4 and immune receptor SUMM2” published in The EMBO Journal and two draft manuscripts summarizing our data on regarding AOC3 and eIF4E in respect to MPK4.