Unusual membrane-associated protein kinases in higher plants

J Membr Biol. 1998 Aug 1;164(3):205-13. doi: 10.1007/s002329900406.


Plant genomes encode a variety of protein kinases, and while some are functional homologues of animal and fungal kinases, others have a novel structure. This review focuses on three groups of unusual membrane-associated plant protein kinases: receptor-like protein kinases (RLKs), calcium-dependent protein kinases (CDPKs), and histidine protein kinases. Animal RLKs have a putative extracellular domain, a single transmembrane domain, and a protein kinase domain. In plants, all of the RLKs identified thus far have serine/threonine signature sequences, rather than the tyrosine-specific signature sequences common to animals. Recent genetic experiments reveal that some of these plant kinases function in development and pathogen resistance. The CDPKs of plants and protozoans are composed of a single polypeptide with a protein kinase domain fused to a C-terminal calmodulin-like domain containing four calcium-binding EF hands. No functional plant homologues of protein kinase C or Ca2+/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase have been identified, and no animal or fungal CDPK homologues have been identified. Recently, histidine kinases have been shown to participate in signaling pathways in plants and fungi. ETR1, an Arabidopsis histidine kinase homologue with three transmembrane domains, functions as a receptor for the plant hormone ethylene. G-protein-coupled receptors, which often serve as hormone receptors in animal systems, have not yet been identified in plants.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Arabidopsis / enzymology*
  • Cell Membrane / enzymology
  • Histidine Kinase
  • Plants / enzymology*
  • Protein Kinases / chemistry*
  • Protein Kinases / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction


  • Protein Kinases
  • Histidine Kinase