The bHLH Rac Immunity1 (RAI1) Is Activated by OsRac1 via OsMAPK3 and OsMAPK6 in Rice Immunity

Plant Cell Physiol. 2012 Apr;53(4):740-54. doi: 10.1093/pcp/pcs033. Epub 2012 Mar 21.


The Rac/Rop GTPase OsRac1 plays an essential role in rice immunity. However, the regulatory genes acting downstream of OsRac1 are largely unknown. We focused on the RAI1 gene, which is up-regulated in suspension cells expressing a constitutively active form of OsRac1. RAI1 encodes a putative basic helix-loop-helix transcription factor. A microarray analysis of cells transformed with an inducible RAI1 construct showed increased expression of PAL1 and OsWRKY19 genes after induction, suggesting that these genes are regulated by RAI1. This was confirmed using RAI1 T-DNA activation-tagged and RNA interference lines. The PAL1 and OsWRKY19 genes were also up-regulated by sphingolipid and chitin elicitors, and the RAI1 activation-tagged plants had increased resistance to a rice blast fungus. These results indicated that RAI1 is involved in defense responses in rice. RAI1 interacted with OsMAPK3 and OsMAPK6 proteins in vivo and in vitro. Also, RAI1 was phosphorylated by OsMAPK3/6 and OsMKK4-dd in vitro. Overexpression of OsMAPK6 and/or OsMAPK3 together with OsMKK4-dd increased PAL1 and OsWRKY19 expression in rice protoplasts. Therefore, the regulation of PAL1 and OsWRKY19 expression by RAI1 could be controlled via an OsMKK4-OsMAPK3/6 cascade. Co-immunoprecipitation assays indicated that OsMAPK3 and OsRac1 occur in the same complex as OsMAPK6. Taken together, our results indicate that RAI1 could be regulated by OsRac1 through an OsMAPK3/6 cascade. In this study, we have identified RAI1 as the first transcription factor acting downstream of OsRac1. This work will help us to understand the immune system regulated by OsRac1 in rice and its orthologs in other plant species.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Basic Helix-Loop-Helix Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Basic Helix-Loop-Helix Transcription Factors / metabolism*
  • Immunoprecipitation
  • Oryza / genetics
  • Oryza / immunology*
  • Oryza / metabolism*
  • Plant Immunity / genetics
  • Plant Immunity / physiology
  • Plant Proteins / genetics
  • Plant Proteins / metabolism*
  • Protein Binding


  • Basic Helix-Loop-Helix Transcription Factors
  • Plant Proteins