Popescu SC, Popescu GV, Bachan S, Zhang Z, Gerstein M, Snyder M, Dinesh-Kumar SP.
Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut 06520, USA.
Signaling through mitogen-activated protein kinases (MPKs) cascades is a complex and fundamental process in eukaryotes, requiring MPK-activating kinases (MKKs) and MKK-activating kinases (MKKKs). However, to date only a limited number of MKK-MPK interactions and MPK phosphorylation substrates have been revealed. We determined which Arabidopsis thaliana MKKs preferentially activate 10 different MPKs in vivo and used the activated MPKs to probe high-density protein microarrays to determine their phosphorylation targets. Our analyses revealed known and novel signaling modules encompassing 570 MPK phosphorylation substrates; these substrates were enriched in transcription factors involved in the regulation of development, defense, and stress responses. Selected MPK substrates were validated by in planta reconstitution experiments. A subset of activated and wild-type MKKs induced cell death, indicating a possible role for these MKKs in the regulation of cell death. Interestingly, MKK7- and MKK9-induced death requires Sgt1, a known regulator of cell death induced during plant innate immunity. Our predicted MKK-MPK phosphorylation network constitutes a valuable resource to understand the function and specificity of MPK signaling systems.