LeCTR2, a CTR1-like protein kinase from tomato, plays a role in ethylene signalling, development and defence

Plant Sciences Division, School of Biosciences, University of Nottingham, Sutton Bonington Campus, Loughborough LE125RD, UK.
The Plant Journal (Impact Factor: 5.97). 04/2008; 54(6):1083-93. DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-313X.2008.03481.x
Source: PubMed


Arabidopsis AtCTR1 is a Raf-like protein kinase that interacts with ETR1 and ERS and negatively regulates ethylene responses. In tomato, several CTR1-like proteins could perform this role. We have characterized LeCTR2, which has similarity to AtCTR1 and also to EDR1, a CTR1-like Arabidopsis protein involved in defence and stress responses. Protein-protein interactions between LeCTR2 and six tomato ethylene receptors indicated that LeCTR2 interacts preferentially with the subfamily I ETR1-type ethylene receptors LeETR1 and LeETR2, but not the NR receptor or the subfamily II receptors LeETR4, LeETR5 and LeETR6. The C-terminus of LeCTR2 possesses serine/threonine kinase activity and is capable of auto-phosphorylation and phosphorylation of myelin basic protein in vitro. Overexpression of the LeCTR2 N-terminus in tomato resulted in altered growth habit, including reduced stature, loss of apical dominance, highly branched inflorescences and fruit trusses, indeterminate shoots in place of determinate flowers, and prolific adventitious shoot development from the rachis or rachillae of the leaves. Expression of the ethylene-responsive genes E4 and chitinase B was upregulated in transgenic plants, but ethylene production and the level of mRNA for the ethylene biosynthetic gene ACO1 was unaffected. The leaves and fruit of transgenic plants also displayed enhanced susceptibility to infection by the fungal pathogen Botrytis cinerea, which was associated with much stronger induction of pathogenesis-related genes such as PR1b1 and chitinase B compared with the wild-type. The results suggest that LeCTR2 plays a role in ethylene signalling, development and defence, probably through its interactions with the ETR1-type ethylene receptors of subfamily I.

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