, Volume 22, Issue 4, pp 298-312
Date: 18 Dec 2003

Brassinosteroid Signal Transduction: A Mix of Conservation and Novelty

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Brassinosteroids (BRs) are a unique class of plant steroids that are structurally similar to animal steroid hormones and play important roles in plant growth and development. Unlike the animal steroids, which bind to classical intracellular steroid receptors that directly modulate gene activities after translocation into the nucleus, the plant steroids rely on transmembrane receptor kinases to activate a phosphorylation cascade to regulate gene expression. Recent genetic and biochemical studies have identified several critical BR signaling components and revealed a striking mechanistic similarity between the plant steroid signaling pathway and several well-studied animal signaling cascades involving a receptor kinase and glycogen synthase kinase 3 (GSK3). A working model for BR signal transduction proposes that BR initiates its signaling pathway by promoting heterodimerization of two transmembrane receptor-like kinases at the cell surface, leading to inhibition of a GSK3 kinase and subsequent stabilization and nuclear accumulation of two GSK3 substrates that regulate BR-responsive genes. Such a simple model provides a framework for continued investigation of molecular mechanism(s) of plant steroid signaling.