Convergence and divergence of stress-induced mitogen-activated protein kinase signaling pathways at the level of two distinct mitogen-activated protein kinase kinases

Francesca Cardinale, Irute Meskiene, Fatma Ouaked, Heribert Hirt*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

130 Scopus citations


Plants respond to biotic and abiotic stresses by inducing overlapping sets of mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPKs) and response genes. To define the mechanisms of how different signals can activate a common signaling pathway, upstream activators of SIMK, a salt stress- and pathogen-induced alfalfa MAPK, were identified. Here, we compare the properties of SIMKK, a MAPK kinase (MAPKK) that mediates the activation of SIMK by salt stress, with those of PRKK, a distantly related novel MAPKK. Although both SIMKK and PRKK show strongest interaction with SIMK, SIMKK can activate SIMK without stimulation by upstream factors. In contrast, PRKK requires activation by an upstream activated MAPKK kinase. SIMKK mediates pathogen elicitor signaling and salt stress, but PRKK transmits only elicitor-induced MAPK activation. Of four tested MAPKs, PRKK activates three of them (SIMK, MMK3, and SAMK) upon elicitor treatment of cells. However, PRKK is unable to activate any MAPK upon salt stress. In contrast, SIMKK activates SIMK and MMK3 in response to elicitor, but it activates only SIMK upon salt stress. These data show that (1) MAPKKs function as convergence points for stress signals, (2) MAPKKs activate multiple MAPKs, and (3) signaling specificity is obtained not only through the inherent affinities of MAPKK-MAPK combinations but also through stress signal-dependent intracellular mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)703-711
Number of pages9
JournalPlant Cell
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 1 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Plant Science
  • Cell Biology

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