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Keywords:

  • cytokinin;
  • signal transduction;
  • two-component system;
  • yeast two-hybrid system;
  • protein–protein interaction

The signal of the plant hormone cytokinin is perceived by membrane-located sensor histidine kinases and transduced by other members of the plant two-component system. In Arabidopsis thaliana, 28 two-component system proteins (phosphotransmitters and response regulators) act downstream of three receptors, transmitting the signal from the membrane to the nucleus and modulating the cellular response. Although the principal signaling mechanism has been elucidated, redundancy in the system has made it difficult to understand which of the many components interact to control the downstream biological processes. Here, we present a large-scale interaction study comprising most members of the Arabidopsis cytokinin signaling pathway. Using the yeast two-hybrid system, we detected 42 new interactions, of which more than 90% were confirmed by in vitro coaffinity purification. There are distinct patterns of interaction between protein families, but only a few interactions between proteins of the same family. An interaction map of this signaling pathway shows the Arabidopsis histidine phosphotransfer proteins as hubs, which interact with members from all other protein families, mostly in a redundant fashion. Domain-mapping experiments revealed the interaction domains of the proteins of this pathway. Analyses of Arabidopsis histidine phosphotransfer protein 5 mutant proteins showed that the presence of the canonical phospho-accepting histidine residue is not required for the interactions. Interaction of A-type response regulators with Arabidopsis histidine phosphotransfer proteins but not with B-type response regulators suggests that their known activity in feedback regulation may be realized by interfering at the level of Arabidopsis histidine phosphotransfer protein-mediated signaling. This study contributes to our understanding of the protein interactions of the cytokinin-signaling system and provides a framework for further functional studies in planta.