Receptor kinases signaling in plants
Plants respond to developmental and environmental signals in part through membrane-localized receptor kinases that interact with other proteins to initiate a cascade of biochemical events resulting in altered cellular function. The genome of the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana encodes 223 Leucine-Rich Repeat Receptor-Like Kinases (LRR RLKs) with a structural organization similar to that of animal receptor kinases. Several of these plant LRR RLKs have been characterized in some detail and are known to play critical roles in regulating growth, morphogenesis, disease resistance, and responses to stress signals. Key to understanding LRR RLK action in specific signaling pathways is the identification of both membrane-bound and soluble protein partners.
However, the functions and interacting protein networks of the vast majority of this large family of signal transduction molecules remain unknown. Besides a broad study of protein interactions, a selected group of LRR RLKs will be functionally characterized at a detailed biochemical level, including those LRR RLKs interacting with other proteins. The large number of Arabidopsis LRR RLKs suggests extensive possibilities for protein-protein interaction and thus, the diversification and amplification of signaling pathways. Using interdisciplinary approaches from plant genetics, biochemistry, mass spectrometry and proteomics, an extensive network of LRR RLK interacting proteins and signal transduction including brassinosteroid hormone and small peptides will be generated.