Network modeling reveals prevalent negative regulatory relationships between signaling sectors in Arabidopsis immune signaling

PLoS Pathog. 2010 Jul 22;6(7):e1001011. doi: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1001011.


Biological signaling processes may be mediated by complex networks in which network components and network sectors interact with each other in complex ways. Studies of complex networks benefit from approaches in which the roles of individual components are considered in the context of the network. The plant immune signaling network, which controls inducible responses to pathogen attack, is such a complex network. We studied the Arabidopsis immune signaling network upon challenge with a strain of the bacterial pathogen Pseudomonas syringae expressing the effector protein AvrRpt2 (Pto DC3000 AvrRpt2). This bacterial strain feeds multiple inputs into the signaling network, allowing many parts of the network to be activated at once. mRNA profiles for 571 immune response genes of 22 Arabidopsis immunity mutants and wild type were collected 6 hours after inoculation with Pto DC3000 AvrRpt2. The mRNA profiles were analyzed as detailed descriptions of changes in the network state resulting from the genetic perturbations. Regulatory relationships among the genes corresponding to the mutations were inferred by recursively applying a non-linear dimensionality reduction procedure to the mRNA profile data. The resulting static network model accurately predicted 23 of 25 regulatory relationships reported in the literature, suggesting that predictions of novel regulatory relationships are also accurate. The network model revealed two striking features: (i) the components of the network are highly interconnected; and (ii) negative regulatory relationships are common between signaling sectors. Complex regulatory relationships, including a novel negative regulatory relationship between the early microbe-associated molecular pattern-triggered signaling sectors and the salicylic acid sector, were further validated. We propose that prevalent negative regulatory relationships among the signaling sectors make the plant immune signaling network a "sector-switching" network, which effectively balances two apparently conflicting demands, robustness against pathogenic perturbations and moderation of negative impacts of immune responses on plant fitness.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Arabidopsis / genetics
  • Arabidopsis / immunology*
  • Bacterial Proteins / administration & dosage
  • Bacterial Proteins / pharmacology
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant / drug effects
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant / immunology*
  • Models, Biological
  • Plant Diseases / immunology
  • Plant Diseases / microbiology
  • Pseudomonas syringae / immunology
  • RNA, Plant / analysis
  • RNA, Plant / immunology*
  • Regulatory Elements, Transcriptional
  • Signal Transduction / genetics
  • Signal Transduction / immunology*


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • RNA, Plant
  • avrRpt2 protein, Pseudomonas syringae