Naganand Rayapuram, Mai Jarad1, Hanna M. Alhoraibi, Jean Bigeard, Aala A. Abulfaraj, Ronny Völz, Kiruthiga Gayathri Mariappan, Marilia Almeida-Trapp, Maria Schlöffel, Emmanuelle Lastrucci, Ludovic Bonhomme, Andrea A. Gust, Axel Mithöfer, Stefan T. Arol
AT-hook motif transcription factor; MAPK signaling; chromatin; immunity; phosphoproteomics.
In many eukaryotic systems during immune responses, mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPKs) link cytoplasmic signaling to chromatin events by targeting transcription factors, chromatin remodeling complexes, and the RNA polymerase machinery. So far, knowledge on these events is scarce in plants and no attempts have been made to focus on phosphorylation events of chromatin-associated proteins. Here we carried out chromatin phosphoproteomics upon elicitor-induced activation of Arabidopsis. The events in WT were compared with those in mpk3, mpk4, and mpk6 mutant plants to decipher specific MAPK targets. Our study highlights distinct signaling networks involving MPK3, MPK4, and MPK6 in chromatin organization and modification, as well as in RNA transcription and processing. Among the chromatin targets, we characterized the AT-hook motif containing nuclear localized (AHL) DNA-binding protein AHL13 as a substrate of immune MAPKs. AHL13 knockout mutant plants are compromised in pathogen-associated molecular pattern (PAMP)-induced reactive oxygen species production, expression of defense genes, and PAMP-triggered immunity. Transcriptome analysis revealed that AHL13 regulates key factors of jasmonic acid biosynthesis and signaling and affects immunity toward Pseudomonas syringae and Botrytis cinerea pathogens. Mutational analysis of the phosphorylation sites of AHL13 demonstrated that phosphorylation regulates AHL13 protein stability and thereby its immune functions.