CaMPK9 increases the stability of CaWRKY40 transcription factor which triggers defense response in chickpea upon Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. ciceri Race1 infection

  • Joydeep Chakraborty
  • Prithwi Ghosh
  • Senjuti Sen
  • Ashis Kumar Nandi
  • Sampa DasEmail author


Key message

Physical interaction and phosphorylation by CaMPK9 protects the degradation of CaWRKY40 that induces resistance response in chickpea to Fusarium wilt disease by modulating the transcription of defense responsive genes.


WRKY transcription factors (TFs) are the global regulators of plant defense signaling that modulate immune responses in host plants by regulating transcription of downstream target genes upon challenged by pathogens. However, very little is known about immune responsive role of Cicer arietinum L. (Ca) WRKY TFs particularly. Using two contrasting chickpea genotypes with respect to resistance against Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. ciceri Race1 (Foc1), we demonstrate transcript accumulation of different CaWRKYs under multiple stresses and establish that CaWRKY40 triggers defense. CaWRKY40 overexpressing chickpea mounts resistance to Foc1 by positively modulating the defense related gene expression. EMSA, ChIP assay and real-time PCR analyses suggest CaWRKY40 binds at the promoters and positively regulates transcription of CaDefensin and CaWRKY33. Further studies revealed that mitogen Activated Protein Kinase9 (CaMPK9) phosphorylates CaWRKY40 by directly interacting with its two canonical serine residues. Interestingly, CaMPK9 is unable to interact with CaWRKY40 when the relevant two serine residues were replaced by alanine. Overexpression of serine mutated WRKY40 isoform in chickpea fails to provide resistance against Foc1. Mutated WRKY40Ser.224/225 to AA overexpressing chickpea resumes its ability to confer resistance against Foc1 after application of 26S proteasomal inhibitor MG132, suggests that phosphorylation is essential to protect CaWRKY40 from proteasomal degradation. CaMPK9 silencing also led to susceptibility in chickpea to Foc1. Altogether, our results elucidate positive regulatory roles of CaMPK9 and CaWRKY40 in modulating defense response in chickpea upon Foc1 infection.


Chickpea Fusarium oxysporum MPK9 Phosphorylation Proteasomal degradation Transcriptional regulation WRKY40 



Abscisic acid


Bimolecular fluorescence complementation


Cauliflower mosaic virus 35S


Coomassie brilliant blue


Chromatin immunoprecipitation


Days post inoculation


Electrophoretic mobility shift assay


Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. ciceri Race1


Glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase


Green fluorescent protein


Jasmonic acid




Myelin basic protein


Multiple cloning site


Mitogen activated protein kinase


Pathogen-associated molecular patterns


Polymerase chain reaction


Quantitative real-time PCR


Reverse transcriptase PCR


Salicylic acid


Yellow fluorescent protein



We are indebted to the Director, Bose Institute for providing infrastructural facilities. SD acknowledges Indian National Science Academy for providing Senior Scientist Fellowship. JC and SS acknowledge ICAR, Govt. of India for fellowship. Authors thank Prof. Nrisingha Dey, Institute of Life Sciences (Bhubaneswar) for gene gun related experiment, Prof. Sudip Chattopadhyay, NIT (Durgapur) for providing BiFC vectors and co-localization vectors. Authors are thankful to Dr. Abhrajyoti Ghosh, Bose Institute (Kolkata) for providing light microscopic facility. Prof. Debabrata Basu is acknowledged for helpful discussions. Shri Dibya Mukherjee and Mr. Saran N. are duly acknowledged for their sincere help in bioinformatics. Mr. Swarnava Das, Mr. Sudipta Basu and Mr. Surajit Maity are acknowledged for providing necessary lab and green house support.

Author contributions

JC and SD conceived the research idea and designed experiments. JC, PG and SS performed the experiments. JC, PG, AKN and SD analyzed data and wrote the manuscript. All authors have read and approved the manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors have no conflicts of interest to declare.

Supplementary material

11103_2019_868_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (2 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 2020 kb)
11103_2019_868_MOESM2_ESM.pdf (131 kb)
Supplementary material 2 (PDF 131 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joydeep Chakraborty
    • 1
  • Prithwi Ghosh
    • 1
    • 2
  • Senjuti Sen
    • 1
  • Ashis Kumar Nandi
    • 3
  • Sampa Das
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Division of Plant BiologyBose InstituteKolkataIndia
  2. 2.Institute of Biological ChemistryWashington State UniversityPullmanUSA
  3. 3.School of Life SciencesJawaharlal Nehru UniversityNew DelhiIndia

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