Supported by the NSF DBI Program and the NIH


There is remarkable conservation in the recognition of pathogen-associated molecular patterns (PAMPs) by innate immune responses of plants, insects and mammals. We developed an Arabidopsis thaliana leaf cell system based on the induction of early-defence gene transcription by flagellin, a highly conserved component of bacterial fagella that functions as a PAMP in plants and mammals.


Here we identify a complete plant MAP kinase cascade (MEKK1, MKK4/MKK5 and MPK3/MPK6) and WRKY22/ WRKY29 transcription factors that function downstream of the flagellin receptor FLS2, a leucine-rich-repeat (LRR) receptor kinase. Activation of this MAPK cascade confers resistance to both bacterial and fungal pathogens, suggesting that signalling events initiated by diverse pathogens converge into a conserved MAPK cascade.

Signaling Pathway Illustrations

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Plant signalling

A MAPK cascade in Arabidopsis innate immunity


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Shan, L., He, P., and Sheen, J. 2007. Intercepting Host MAPK Signaling Cascades by Bacterial Type III Effectors. Cell Host & Microbe 1:167-174 PDF

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Lee, H., Chah, O.K., and Sheen, J. 2011. Stem-cell-immunity through CLV3p-FLS2 signalling. Nature 473:376-379 PDF  SUPP

Boudsocq, M., Willman, M., McCormack, M., Lee, H., Shan, L., He., P., Bush, J., Cheng, S.H., and Sheen, J. 2010. Differential innate immune signalling via Ca2+ sensor protein kinases. Nature 464:418-423 PDF  SUPP

Fujii, H., Chinnusamy, V., Rodrigues, A., Rubio, S., Antoni, R., Park, S.-Y., Cutler, S.R., Sheen, J., Rodriguez, P.L. andZhu, J.-K. 2009. In vitro reconstitution of an abscisic acid signaling pathway. Nature. 462: 660-664. PDF SUPP

Shan, L., He, P., Li, J., Heese, A., Peck, S.C., Nürnberger, T., Martin, G.B. and Sheen, J. 2008. Bacterial Effectors Target the Common Signaling Partner BAK1 to Disrupt Multiple MAMP Receptor Signaling Complexes and Impede Plant Immunity. Cell Host & Microbe 4: 17-27 PDF  SUPP

Yoo, S-D., Cho Y-H., Tena G., Xiong. Y. and Sheen, J. 2008. Dual control of nuclear EIN3 by bifurcate MAPK cascades in C2H4 signalling. Nature 451: 789-795 PDF  SUPP

Chen, Z., Agnew, J.L., Cohen, J.D., He, P., Shan, L., Sheen, J. and Kunkel, B.N. 2007. Pseudomonas syringae type III effector AvrRpt2 alters Arabidopsis thaliana auxin physiology. PNAS 104: 20131-20136 PDF

Xiao,F., He, P., Abramovitch, R.B., Dawson, J.E., Nicholson, L.K., Sheen, J. and Martin, G.B. 2007. The N-terminal region of Pseudomonas type III effector AvrPtoB elicits Pto-dependent immunity and has two distinct virulence determinants. The Plant Journal 52: 595-614 PDF

He, P., Shan, L., Lin, N.-C., Martin, G.B., Kemmerling, B., Nurnberger, T., and Sheen, J. 2006. Specific Bacterial Suppressors of MAMP Signaling Upstream of MAPKKK in Arabidopsis Innate Immunity. Cell125: 563-575 PDF SUPP.

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Asai, T., Stone, J. M., Head, J.E., Kovtun, Y., Yorgey, P., Sheen, J.,and Ausubel, F.M. 2000. Fumonisin B1-induced cell death in Arabidopsis protoplasts requires jasmonate-, ethylene-, and salicylate-dependent signaling pathways. Plant Cell 12: 1823-1835.

Kovtun, Y., Chiu, W.-L. Tena, G., and Sheen, J. 2000 Functional analysis of oxidative stress-activated MAPK cascade in plants. PNAS. 97:2940-2945