Elicitor- and A23187-induced expression of WCK-1, a gene encoding mitogen-activated protein kinase in wheat
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Wheat cultured cells were used to study the role of Ca2+ in regulating protein kinases during the induction of defense-related genes by fungal elicitor treatments. Manipulation of intracellular Ca2+ concentrations by treatment with calcium ionophore A23187 in the presence of high extracellular Ca2+ resulted in the induction of mRNA expression of WCK-1, a gene encoding mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinase. The induction of WCK-1 mRNA by A23187 did not occur when extracellular Ca2+ was chelated by 1,2-bis(2-aminophenoxy)ethane-N,N,N′,N′-tetraacetic acid (BAPTA). The WCK-1 mRNA was also induced by Typhula ishikariensis-derived elicitors, suggesting a possible involvement of WCK-1 in the plant defense response against pathogens. BAPTA and a calcium channel blocker, La3+, inhibited the elicitor-induced expression of the WCK-1 mRNA. A recombinant fusion protein of WCK-1 (GST-WCK-1) autophosphorylated at the Tyr residue and exhibited an autophosphorylation-dependent protein kinase activity towards myelin basic protein. Alteration of Tyr-196 in the conserved ‘TEY’ motif in GST-WCK-1 to Phe by site-directed mutagenesis abolished the autophosphorylation. The GST-WCK-1 protein was activated by elicitor-treated wheat cell extracts but not by the control extract. These results suggest that fungal elicitors activate WCK-1, a specific MAP kinase in wheat. Furthermore, the results suggest a possible involvement of Ca2+ in enhancing the MAP kinase signaling cascade in plants by controlling the levels of the MAP kinase transcripts.
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