A new plant disease control mechanism

October 9, 2013

Alternative polyadenylation controls activation of disease response transcription factors

RIKEN CSRS researchers investigating gene expression at the time of pathogen perception have discovered that the mRNA that transcribes the ERF4 gene, known to encode a pathogen-induced transcription factor, is polyadenylated and induces alternative splicing.

Additionally, researchers determined that the resulting ERF4 protein lacks an ERF-associated amphiphilic repression (EAR) motif and that a pathogen-induced gene cluster is expressed. This polyadenylation is regulated by the FPA protein, which controls the plant flowering stage.

These results open a path to the development of sustainable, environment-friendly and disease-resistant plants. Moreover, since plants infected with a pathogen are seen to flower early, genome editing, etc. to alter the FPA gene could make possible control of the flowering stage.

The work was done using a custom microarray analysis originally developed by RIKEN CSRS, Dundee University in the UK and CSIRO in Australia for the model plant Arabidopsis.


Original article
Scientific Reports doi: 10.1038/srep02866
R. Lyons, A. Iwase, T. Gänsewig, A. Sherstnev, C. Duc, G. J. Barton, K. Hanada, M. Higuchi-Takeuchi, M. Matsui, K. Sugimoto, K. Kazan, G. G. Simpson, K. Shirasu,
"The RNA-binding protein FPA regulates flg22-triggered defense responses and transcription factor activity by alternative polyadenylation".

Ken Shirasu
Group Director
Plant Immunity Research Group