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Keywords:

  • MAP kinase kinase 7;
  • bud1 mutant;
  • systemic acquired resistance;
  • salicylic acid;
  • NPR1

Summary

There is a growing body of evidence indicating that mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) cascades are involved in plant defense responses. Analysis of the completed Arabidopsis thaliana genome sequence has revealed the existence of 20 MAPKs, 10 MAPKKs and 60 MAPKKKs, implying a high level of complexity in MAPK signaling pathways, and making the assignment of gene functions difficult. The MAP kinase kinase 7 (MKK7) gene of Arabidopsis has previously been shown to negatively regulate polar auxin transport. Here we provide evidence that MKK7 positively regulates plant basal and systemic acquired resistance (SAR). The activation-tagged bud1 mutant, in which the expression of MKK7 is increased, accumulates elevated levels of salicylic acid (SA), exhibits constitutive pathogenesis-related (PR) gene expression, and displays enhanced resistance to both Pseudomonas syringae pv. maculicola (Psm) ES4326 and Hyaloperonospora parasitica Noco2. Both PR gene expression and disease resistance of the bud1 plants depend on SA, and partially depend on NPR1. We demonstrate that the constitutive defense response in bud1 plants is a result of the increased expression of MKK7, and requires the kinase activity of the MKK7 protein. We found that expression of the MKK7 gene in wild-type plants is induced by pathogen infection. Reducing mRNA levels of MKK7 by antisense RNA expression not only compromises basal resistance, but also blocks the induction of SAR. Intriguingly, ectopic expression of MKK7 in local tissues induces PR gene expression and resistance to Psm ES4326 in systemic tissues, indicating that activation of MKK7 is sufficient for generating the mobile signal of SAR.