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Positive and Negative Roles for Soybean MPK6 in Regulating Defense Responses

August 2014 , Volume 27 , Number  8
Pages  824 - 834

Jian-Zhong Liu,1 Edward Braun,2 Wen-li Qiu,2 Ya-Fei Shi,1 Francismar C. Marcelino-Guimarães,3 Duroy Navarre,4 John H. Hill,2 and Steven A. Whitham2

1College of Chemistry and Life Sciences, Zhejiang Normal University, Jinhua, China 321004; 2Department of Plant Pathology and Microbiology, Iowa State University, Ames 50011, U.S.A.; 3EMBRAPA Soja, Rodovia Carlos João Strass, Distrito de Warta, CEP 86001-970, Londrina, PR, Brazil; 4Department of Plant Pathology, Washington State University, Prosser 99350, U.S.A.

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Accepted 7 April 2014.

It has been well established that MPK6 is a positive regulator of defense responses in model plants such as Arabidopsis and tobacco. However, the functional importance of soybean MPK6 in disease resistance has not been investigated. Here, we showed that silencing of GmMPK6 in soybean using virus-induced gene silencing mediated by Bean pod mottle virus (BPMV) caused stunted growth and spontaneous cell death on the leaves, a typical phenotype of activated defense responses. Consistent with this phenotype, expression of pathogenesis-related (PR) genes and the conjugated form of salicylic acid were significantly increased in GmMPK6-silenced plants. As expected, GmMPK6-silenced plants were more resistant to downy mildew and Soybean mosaic virus compared with vector control plants, indicating a negative role of GmMPK6 in disease resistance. Interestingly, overexpression of GmMPK6, either transiently in Nicotiana benthamiana or stably in Arabidopsis, resulted in hypersensitive response (HR)-like cell death. The HR-like cell death was accompanied by increased PR gene expression, suggesting that GmMPK6, like its counterpart in other plant species, also plays a positive role in cell death induction and defense response. Using bimolecular fluorescence complementation analysis, we determined that GmMKK4 might function upstream of GmMPK6 and GmMKK4 could interact with GmMPK6 independent of its phosphorylation status. Taken together, our results indicate that GmMPK6 functions as both repressor and activator in defense responses of soybean.

© 2014 The American Phytopathological Society