In the Cf-9/Avr9 gene-for-gene interaction, the Cf-9 resistance gene from tomato confers resistance to the fungal pathogen Cladosporium fulvum, which expresses the corresponding pathogen-derived avirulence product Avr9. To understand R gene function and dissect the signaling mechanisms involved in the induction of plant defenses, we studied Cf-9/Avr9–dependent activation of protein kinases in transgenic Cf9 tobacco cell cultures. Using a modified in-gel kinase assay with histone as substrate, we identified a membrane-bound, calcium-dependent protein kinase (CDPK) that showed a shift in electrophoretic mobility from 68 to 70 kD within 5 min after Avr9 elicitor was added. This transition from the nonelicited to the elicited CDPK form was caused by a phosphorylation event and was verified when antibodies to CDPK were used for protein gel blot analysis. In addition, the interconversion of the corresponding CDPK forms could be induced in vitro in both directions by treatment with either phosphatase or ATP. In vitro protein kinase activity toward syntide-2 or histone with membrane extracts or gel-purified enzyme was dependent on Ca 2+ content and was compromised by the calmodulin antagonist N -(6-aminohexyl)-5-chloro-1-naphthalenesulfonamide (W-7) but not by its inactive isoform N -(6-aminohexyl)-1-naphthalenesulfonamide. In these assays, the CDPK activity in elicited samples, reflecting predominantly the phosphorylated 70-kD CDPK form, was greater than in nonelicited samples. Thus, Avr9/Cf-9–dependent phosphorylation and subsequent transition from the nonelicited to the elicited form correlate with the activation of a CDPK isoform after in vivo stimulation. Because that transition was not inhibited by W-7, the in vivo CDPK activation probably is not the result of autophosphorylation. Studies with pharmacological inhibitors indicated that the identified CDPK is independent of or is located upstream from a signaling pathway that is required for the Avr9-induced active oxygen species.
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