Inoculation of rice plants (Oryza sativa) with the nonhost pathogen Pseudomonas syringae pv. syringae leads to the activation of defense-related genes and ultimately to induced resistance against the rice blast fungus Pyricularia oryzae. One of the molecular determinants of P. syringae pv. syringae that is recognized by the plant cells and evokes these defense responses is syringolin A, an elicitor that is secreted by the bacteria under appropriate conditions. In order to investigate signal transduction events elicited by syringolin A, the response of cultured rice cells to syringolin A application was analyzed. Cultured rice cells were able to sense syringolin A at concentrations in the nanomolar range as observed by the transient accumulation of Pir7b esterase transcripts. Syringolin A-mediated Pir7b transcript accumulation was inhibited by cycloheximide, indicating that de novo protein synthesis was required. Calyculin and okadaic acid, two protein phosphatase inhibitors, blocked Pir7b gene induction, whereas the serine/threonine protein kinase inhibitors staurosporine and K-252a had no effect on Pir7b transcript levels. Actin transcript levels were essentially not affected by inhibitor treatments over the experimental time span. These results imply that dephosphorylation of a phosphoprotein is an important step in the syringolin A-triggered signal transduction pathway.