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Sci. STKE, 22 March 2005
Vol. 2005, Issue 276, p. cm3
[DOI: 10.1126/stke.2762005cm3]


Ethylene Signaling Pathway

Anna N. Stepanova and Jose M. Alonso*

Department of Genetics, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27695, USA.


Abstract: The structural simplicity of the plant hormone ethylene contrasts with its dramatic effects in various developmental processes, as well as in the cellular processes that ethylene initiates in response to a diversity of environmental signals. A single well-conserved signaling cascade mediates this broad spectrum of responses. Ethylene is perceived by a family of two-component histidine kinase receptors that become inactivated upon ethylene binding. In the absence of the hormone, the receptors activate CTR1, a negative regulator of ethylene responses. Sequence similarity between CTR1 and the Raf protein kinases implies involvement of a mitogen-activated protein kinase cascade in this signaling pathway. The protein EIN2 acts downstream of CTR1 and the possible kinase cascade. Although the biochemical function of EIN2 is not understood, its critical role is manifested by the complete ethylene insensitivity of EIN2 loss-of-function mutants. Downstream of EIN2, a family of plant-specific EIN3-like transcription factors mediate ethylene responses. The regulation of EIN3 stability by ethylene is accomplished by F-box–containing proteins that participate in the formation of a SKP1/cullin/F-box complex that targets proteins for degradation by the proteasome. A large number of ethylene-regulated genes have been identified, including the APETALA2 domain–containing transcription factor genes ERF1 and EDF1 to 4, which suggests the participation of a transcriptional cascade in the ethylene response. The differential regulation of some components of this complex nuclear cascade by other signaling pathways provides a possible mechanism for interaction and signal integration. As new points of intersection with other pathways and additional participants in the pathway are identified, the Connections Map will be updated to include this new information.

*Corresponding author. E-mail: jmalonso{at}

Citation: A. N. Stepanova, J. M. Alonso, Ethylene Signaling Pathway. Sci. STKE 2005, cm3 (2005).

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