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Target of rapamycin signaling orchestrates growth-defense trade-offs in plants

  • De Vleesschauwer, David
  • Filipe, Osvaldo
  • Hoffman, Gena
  • Seifi, Hamed
  • Haeck, Ashley
  • Canlas, Patrick
  • Van Bockhaven, Jonas
  • De Waele, Evelien
  • Demeestere, Kristof
  • Ronald, Pamela
  • Höfte, Monica
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2018
Ghent University Institutional Archive
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Plant defense to microbial pathogens is often accompanied by significant growth inhibition. How plants merge immune system function with normal growth and development is still poorly understood. Here, we investigated the role of target of rapamycin (TOR), an evolutionary conserved serine/threonine kinase, in the plant defense response. We used rice as a model system and applied a combination of chemical, genetic, genomic and cell-based analyses. We demonstrate that ectopic expression of TOR and Raptor (regulatory-associated protein of mTOR), a protein previously demonstrated to interact with TOR in Arabidopsis, positively regulates growth and development in rice. Transcriptome analysis of rice cells treated with the TOR-specific inhibitor rapamycin revealed that TOR not only dictates transcriptional reprogramming of extensive gene sets involved in central and secondary metabolism, cell cycle and transcription, but also suppresses many defense-related genes. TOR overexpression lines displayed increased susceptibility to both bacterial and fungal pathogens, whereas plants with reduced TOR signaling displayed enhanced resistance. Finally, we found that TOR antagonizes the action of the classic defense hormones salicylic acid and jasmonic acid. Together, these results indicate that TOR acts as a molecular switch for the activation of cell proliferation and plant growth at the expense of cellular immunity.

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