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Science 336 (6085): 1160-1164

Copyright © 2012 by the American Association for the Advancement of Science

Chitin-Induced Dimerization Activates a Plant Immune Receptor

Tingting Liu,1,2,3,4,* Zixu Liu,4,5,* Chuanjun Song,6 Yunfei Hu,7,8 Zhifu Han,2,3 Ji She,8 Fangfang Fan,6 Jiawei Wang,3 Changwen Jin,7,8 Junbiao Chang,6,{dagger} Jian-Min Zhou,4,9,{dagger} Jijie Chai2,3,{dagger}

Abstract: Pattern recognition receptors confer plant resistance to pathogen infection by recognizing the conserved pathogen-associated molecular patterns. The cell surface receptor chitin elicitor receptor kinase 1 of Arabidopsis (AtCERK1) directly binds chitin through its lysine motif (LysM)–containing ectodomain (AtCERK1-ECD) to activate immune responses. The crystal structure that we solved of an AtCERK1-ECD complexed with a chitin pentamer reveals that their interaction is primarily mediated by a LysM and three chitin residues. By acting as a bivalent ligand, a chitin octamer induces AtCERK1-ECD dimerization that is inhibited by shorter chitin oligomers. A mutation attenuating chitin-induced AtCERK1-ECD dimerization or formation of nonproductive AtCERK1 dimer by overexpression of AtCERK1-ECD compromises AtCERK1-mediated signaling in plant cells. Together, our data support the notion that chitin-induced AtCERK1 dimerization is critical for its activation.

1 Graduate Program in Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences and Peking Union Medical College, Beijing 100730, China.
2 Tsinghua-Peking Center for Life Sciences, Beijing 100084, China.
3 School of Life Sciences, Tsinghua University, Beijing 100084, China.
4 National Institute of Biological Sciences, No. 7 Science Park Road, Beijing 102206, China.
5 School of Life Science, Nanjing University, Nanjing 210093, China.
6 Department of Chemistry, Zhengzhou University, Zhengzhou 450001, China.
7 Beijing NMR Center, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China.
8 College of Life Sciences, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China.
9 State Key Laboratory of Plant Genomics and National Center for Plant Gene Research, Institute of Genetics and Developmental Biology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China.

* These authors contributed equally to this work.

{dagger} To whom correspondence should be addressed: chaijj{at} (J.Chai); jmzhou{at} (J.-M.Z.); changjunbiao{at} (J.Chang)

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