Microbial patterns are recognized by cell-surface receptors to initiate pattern-triggered immunity (PTI) in plants. Receptor-like cytoplasmic kinases (RLCKs), such as BIK1, and calcium-dependent protein kinases (CPKs) are engaged during PTI to activate the NADPH oxidase RBOHD for reactive oxygen species (ROS) production. It is unknown whether protein kinases besides CPKs and RLCKs participate in RBOHD regulation. We screened mutants in all ten Arabidopsis MAP4 kinases (MAP4Ks) and identified the conserved MAP4K SIK1 as a positive regulator of PTI. sik1 mutants were compromised in their ability to elicit the ROS burst in response to microbial features and exhibited compromised PTI to bacterial infection. SIK1 directly interacts with, phosphorylates, and stabilizes BIK1 in a kinase activity-dependent manner. Furthermore, SIK1 directly interacts with and phosphorylates RBOHD upon flagellin perception. Thus, SIK1 positively regulates immunity by stabilizing BIK1 and activating RBOHD to promote the extracellular ROS burst.
Keywords: BIK1; MAP4K; PTI; RBOHD; ROS; SIK1; autoimmunity; phosphorylation.
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