Research ArticlePlant biology

Real-time dynamics of peptide ligand–dependent receptor complex formation in planta

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Sci. Signal.  04 Aug 2015:
Vol. 8, Issue 388, pp. ra76
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.aab0598

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The CLAVATA (CLV) and flagellin (flg) signaling pathways act through peptide ligands and closely related plasma membrane–localized receptor-like kinases (RLKs). The plant peptide CLV3 regulates stem cell homeostasis, whereas the bacterial flg22 peptide elicits defense responses. We applied multiparameter fluorescence imaging spectroscopy (MFIS) to characterize the dynamics of RLK complexes in the presence of ligand in living plant cells expressing receptor proteins fused to fluorescent proteins. We found that the CLV and flg pathways represent two different principles of signal transduction: flg22 first triggered RLK heterodimerization and later assembly into larger complexes through homomerization. In contrast, CLV receptor complexes were preformed, and ligand binding stimulated their clustering. This different behavior likely reflects the nature of these signaling pathways. Pathogen-triggered flg signaling impedes plant growth and development; therefore, receptor complexes are formed only in the presence of ligand. In contrast, CLV3-dependent stem cell homeostasis continuously requires active signaling, and preformation of receptor complexes may facilitate this task.

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