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A novel wall-associated receptor-like protein kinase gene, OsWAK1, plays important roles in rice blast disease resistance

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Wall-associated protein kinases (WAKs) are a new group of receptor-like kinases (RLK) recently identified in Arabidopsis. A cDNA encoding a novel WAK was isolated from rice and was named OsWAK1 (Oryza sativa WAK). The deduced amino acid sequence of OsWAK1 showed 27.6% identity to WAK2 from Arabidopsis. OsWAK1 not only has the ability of autophosphorylation but also can phosphorylate OsRFP1, a putative transcription regulator recently identified in rice. OsRFP1 strongly interacts with the kinase domain of OsWAK1. This demonstrated that OsWAK1 is a functional protein kinase. A fusion protein of OsWAK1 with GFP was found to be localized on the cell surface. Plasmolysis experiments further revealed OsWAK1 is associated with the cell wall. Northern blotting analysis showed that infection of the rice blast fungus, Magnaporthe oryzae significantly induced the OsWAK1 transcripts, and the accumulation of OsWAK1 mRNA occurred earlier and was more abundant in rice leaves infected with an incompatible race than with a compatible race of the blast fungus. OsWAK1 was also induced after treatment by mechanical wounding, SA and MeJA, but not by ABA. These results imply that OsWAK1 is a novel gene involved in plant defense. Furthermore, six transgenic rice lines with constitutive expression of OsWAK1 became resistant to the compatible race. However, OsWAK1 expression was undetectable in leaves, stems and flowers but very weak in roots under normal growth conditions. This provides functional evidence that induction of OsWAK1 as a novel RLK plays important roles in plant disease resistance.

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This study was supported by the National Basic Research Program (also called 973 Program) of China (2006CB101900), from the Ministry of Science and Technology. We thank the members of the Laboratory of Molecular Plant Pathology at China Agricultural University for comments and discussions.

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Correspondence to You-Liang Peng.

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Hui Li and Shan-Yue Zhou contributed equally to this work, and are co-first authors.

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Li, H., Zhou, SY., Zhao, WS. et al. A novel wall-associated receptor-like protein kinase gene, OsWAK1, plays important roles in rice blast disease resistance. Plant Mol Biol 69, 337–346 (2009).

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