Review

Plant Receptor-Like Kinase Gene Family: Diversity, Function, and Signaling

Science's STKE  18 Dec 2001:
Vol. 2001, Issue 113, pp. re22
DOI: 10.1126/stke.2001.113.re22

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Gloss

A basic feature of all biological systems is the ability to sense and process information from chemical signals via cell-surface receptors. One prevalent class of receptors in both plants and animals is the receptor protein kinases. These proteins contain a signal-binding region located outside the cell linked to a region inside the cell called the protein kinase domain. The protein kinase domain transmits information to other cellular components by catalyzing the transfer of a phosphate group from adenosine triphosphate (ATP) to an amino acid residue on the target proteins. In animals and humans, the well-studied family of receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs) mediates a wide range of signaling events at the cell surface. The importance of receptor protein kinases in plant biology was revealed by the discovery of a family of more than 400 genes coding for receptor-like kinases (RLKs) present in the recently sequenced genome of the model plant Arabidopsis. Unlike most animal RTKs, the plant RLKs use serine and threonine residues in proteins as targets for phosphorylation. Detailed studies of a handful of plant RLK genes have implicated them in the control of plant growth and development and in responses to pathogens. Multiple signals can be sensed by different RLKs, including peptides produced by neighboring cells, steroid hormones, and pathogen cell-wall proteins and carbohydrates. Major challenges for the future will include understanding the wide range of specific signaling functions performed by this large family of receptors and discovering how the information from this multitude of signal initiation points is integrated by the plant's cells.

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