Background: In plants, the plasma membrane is enclosed by the cell wall and anchors RLK and RLP proteins, which play a fundamental role in perception of developmental and environmental cues and are crucial in plant development and immunity. These plasma membrane receptors belong to large gene/protein families that are not easily classified computationally. This detailed analysis of these plasma membrane proteins brings a new source of information to the legume genetic, physiology and breeding research communities.
Results: A computational approach to identify and classify RLK and RLP proteins is presented. The strategy was evaluated using experimentally-validated RLK and RLP proteins and was determined to have a sensitivity of over 0.85, a specificity of 1.00, and a Matthews correlation coefficient of 0.91. The computational approach can be used to develop a detailed catalog of plasma membrane receptors (by type and domains) in several legume/crop species. The exclusive domains identified in legumes for RLKs are WaaY, APH Pkinase_C, LRR_2, and EGF, and for RLP are L-lectin LPRY and PAN_4. The RLK-nonRD and RLCK subclasses are also discovered by the methodology. In both classes, less than 20% of the total RLK predicted for each species belong to this class. Among the 10-species evaluated ~ 40% of the proteins in the kinome are RLKs. The exclusive legume domain combinations identified are B-Lectin/PR5K domains in G. max, M. truncatula, V. angularis, and V. unguiculata and a three-domain combination B-lectin/S-locus/WAK in C. cajan, M. truncatula, P. vulgaris, V. angularis. and V. unguiculata.
Conclusions: The analysis suggests that about 2% of the proteins of each genome belong to the RLK family and less than 1% belong to RLP family. Domain diversity combinations are greater for RLKs compared with the RLP proteins and LRR domains, and the dual domain combination LRR/Malectin were the most frequent domain for both groups of plasma membrane receptors among legume and non-legume species. Legumes exclusively show Pkinase extracellular domains, and atypical domain combinations in RLK and RLP compared with the non-legumes evaluated. The computational logic approach is statistically well supported and can be used with the proteomes of other plant species.
Keywords: Dicots; Legumes; Model plants; Plasma membrane receptors; Resistance genes/proteins.