Resistance protein Pit interacts with the GEF OsSPK1 to activate OsRac1 and trigger rice immunity
- Resistance (R) genes encode intracellular nucleotide-binding/leucine-rich repeat-containing (NLR) family proteins that serve as critical plant immune receptors to induce effector-triggered immunity (ETI). NLR proteins possess a tripartite domain architecture consisting of an N-terminal variable region, a central nucleotide-binding domain, and a C-terminal leucine-rich repeat. N-terminal coiled-coil (CC) or Toll-interleukin 1 receptor (TIR) domains of R proteins appear to serve as platforms to trigger immune responses, because overexpression of the CC or TIR domain of some R proteins is sufficient to induce an immune response. Because direct downstream signaling molecules of R proteins remain obscure, the molecular mechanisms by which R proteins regulate downstream signaling are largely unknown. We reported previously that a rice R protein named Pit triggers ETI through a small GTPase, OsRac1, although how Pit activates OsRac1 is unclear. Here, we identified OsSPK1, a DOCK family guanine nucleotide exchange factor, as an interactor of Pit and activator for OsRac1. OsSPK1 contributes to signaling by two disease-resistance genes, Pitand Pia, against the rice blast fungus Magnaporthe oryzae and facilitates OsRac1 activation in vitro and in vivo. The CC domain of Pit is required for its binding to OsSPK1, OsRac1 activation, and the induction of cell death. Overall, we conclude that OsSPK1 is a direct and key signaling target of Pit-mediated immunity. Our results shed light on how R proteins trigger ETI through direct downstream molecules.