Background: The recognition of microbe-associated molecular patterns during infection is central to the mounting of an effective immune response. In spite of their importance, it remains difficult to identify these molecules and the host receptors required for their perception, ultimately limiting our understanding of the role of these molecules in the evolution of host-pathogen relationships.
Results: We employ a comparative genomics screen to identify six new immune eliciting peptides from the phytopathogenic bacterium Pseudomonas syringae. We then perform a reverse genetic screen to identify Arabidopsis thaliana leucine-rich repeat receptor-like kinases required for the recognition of these elicitors. We test the six elicitors on 187 receptor-like kinase knock-down insertion lines using a high-throughput peroxidase-based immune assay and identify multiple lines that show decreased immune responses to specific peptides. From this primary screen data, we focused on the interaction between the xup25 peptide from a bacterial xanthine/uracil permease and the Arabidopsis receptor-like kinase xanthine/uracil permease sensing 1; a family XII protein closely related to two well-characterized receptor-like kinases. We show that xup25 treatment increases pathogenesis-related gene induction, callose deposition, seedling growth inhibition, and resistance to virulent bacteria, all in a xanthine/uracil permease sensing 1-dependent manner. Finally, we show that this kinase-like receptor can bind the xup25 peptide directly. These results identify xup25 as a P. syringae microbe-associated molecular pattern and xanthine/uracil permease sensing 1 as a receptor-like kinase that detects the xup25 epitope to activate immune responses.
Conclusions: The present study demonstrates an efficient method to identify immune elicitors and the plant receptors responsible for their perception. Further exploration of these molecules will increase our understanding of plant-pathogen interactions and the basis for host specificity.