Manipulation of Plant Innate Immune Responses by Small Molecules Probes
Plants lack mobile immune cells and rely on early detection of conserved pathogen components (PAMPs) to fend off pathogen attacks. Detection of PAMPs at the cell surface by pathogen recognition receptors (PRRs) initiates a ramified defense response that ultimately halts pathogen colonization. In addition to well-known immune signaling pathways, we have recently discovered that PAMP recognition leads to rapid induction of autophagy. Autophagy is a conserved homeostatic pathway that ensures timely removal of unwanted macromolecules. Yet, the precise signaling mechanisms leading to the activation of autophagy by PRR signaling remain elusive. This is mostly due to the low temporal resolution of current biochemical tools that are insufficient to decode the rapid biochemical changes that dominate the early PRR responses. Here, we propose employ a targeted screening approach and develop novel chemical biology tools that will overcome these challenges and allow us to elucidate activation of autophagy by cell surface signaling. These tools will nicely demonstrate how chemical biology platforms could be exploited to fill in the missing details of receptor kinase signaling networks. Also, the project will create a fruitful synergy between three PIs from different career stages and research topics. This will establish a supportive and motivating training atmosphere for the requested students.