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Salicylic Acid Potentiates an Agonist-Dependent Gain Control That Amplifies Pathogen Signals in the Activation of Defense Mechanisms

Ken Shirasu, Hiroki Nakajima, V. Krishnamachari Rajasekhar, Richard A. Dixon and Chris Lamb
The Plant Cell
Vol. 9, No. 2 (Feb., 1997), pp. 261-270
DOI: 10.2307/3870546
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3870546
Page Count: 10
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Salicylic Acid Potentiates an Agonist-Dependent Gain Control That Amplifies Pathogen Signals in the Activation of Defense Mechanisms
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Abstract

The phenylpropanoid-derived natural product salicylic acid (SA) plays a key role in disease resistance. However, SA administered in the absence of a pathogen is a paradoxically weak inductive signal, often requiring concentrations of 0.5 to 5 mM to induce acquired resistance or related defense mechanisms or to precondition signal systems. In contrast, endogenous SA accumulates to concentrations of <70 μM at the site of attempted infection. Here, we show that although 10 to 100 μM SA had negligible effects when administered to soybean cell suspensions in the absence of a pathogen, physiological concentrations of SA markedly enhanced the induction of defense gene transcripts, H2 O2 accumulation, and hypersensitive cell death by an avirulent strain of Pseudomonas syringae pv glycinea, with optimal effects being at ∼50 μM. SA also synergistically enhanced H2 O2 accumulation in response to the protein phosphatase type 2A inhibitor cantharidin in the absence of a pathogen. The synergistic effect of SA was potent, rapid, and insensitive to the protein synthesis inhibitor cycloheximide, and we conclude that SA stimulates an agonist-dependent gain control operating at an early step in the signal pathway for induction of the hypersensitive response. This fine control mechanism differs from previously described time-dependent, inductive coarse control mechanisms for SA action in the absence of a pathogen. Induction of H2 O2 accumulation and hypersensitive cell death by avirulent P. s. glycinea was blocked by the phenylpropanoid synthesis inhibitor α-aminooxy-β-phenylpropionic acid, and these responses could be rescued by exogenous SA. Because the agonist-dependent gain control operates at physiological levels of SA, we propose that rapid fine control signal amplification makes an important contribution to SA function in the induction of disease resistance mechanisms.

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