Sphingolipid-induced cell death in Arabidopsis is negatively regulated by the papain-like cysteine protease RD21

Plant Sci. 2019 Mar;280:12-17. doi: 10.1016/j.plantsci.2018.10.028. Epub 2018 Nov 13.


It is now well established that sphingoid Long Chain Bases (LCBs) are crucial mediators of programmed cell death. In plants, the mycotoxin fumonisin B1 (FB1) produced by the necrotrophic fungus Fusarium moniliforme disrupts the sphingolipid biosynthesis pathway by inhibiting the ceramide synthase leading to an increase in the amount of phytosphingosine (PHS) and dihydrosphingosine (DHS), the two major LCBs in Arabidopsis thaliana. To date, the signaling pathway involved in FB1-induced cell death remains largely uncharacterized. It is also well acknowledged that plant proteases such as papain-like cysteine protease are largely involved in plant immunity. Here, we show that the papain-like cysteine protease RD21 (responsive-to-desiccation-21) is activated in response to PHS and FB1 in Arabidopsis cultured cells and leaves, respectively. Using two allelic null mutants of RD21, and two different PCD bioassays, we demonstrate that the protein acts as a negative regulator of FB1-induced cell death in Arabidopsis.

Keywords: Activity-based protein profiling; Fumonisin B1; Papain-like cysteine proteases; Programmed cell death; RD21; Sphingolipids.

MeSH terms

  • Arabidopsis / cytology*
  • Arabidopsis / metabolism*
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / genetics
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / metabolism*
  • Cell Death / genetics
  • Cell Death / physiology*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant / genetics
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant / physiology
  • Papain / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction / genetics
  • Signal Transduction / physiology
  • Sphingolipids / metabolism*


  • Arabidopsis Proteins
  • Sphingolipids
  • Papain