Receptor serine/threonine protein kinases in signalling: analysis of the erecta receptor-like kinase of Arabidopsis thaliana



The Arabidopsis ERECTA (ER) gene regulates elongation of above-ground organs. ER encodes a member of the leucine-rich repeats–receptor-like protein kinases (LRR–RLK) gene family, with the predicted protein containing a signal peptide, 20 leucine-rich repeats in the extracellular domain, a transmembrane domain, and a cytoplasmic serine/threonine protein kinase domain. The structural features of the predicted ER protein suggest its role in cell–cell signalling is through phosphorylating serine/threonine residues. Consistent with this hypothesis, in vitro protein kinase analysis indicates that ER is a functional serine/threonine protein kinase. Furthermore, a large-scale genetic screen was conducted to analyse new mutations in the erecta gene; 16 new er alleles were isolated, all of which were recessive. Here we present the identification of molecular lesions of seven alleles of er, which suggests the hypothesis that ERECTA might employ a mode of action distinct from other RLKs such as Xa21 or CLAVATA1, which function in disease resistance and developmental pathways, respectively.