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Conservation through cultivation

New plant hormone discovered that can help plants through stressful times




The discovery of a hormone acting like molecular glue could hold a key to bolstering plant immune systems and understanding how plants cope with environmental stress.

The study, which is featured in the Oct. 6 issue of Nature, reveals how the plant hormone jasmonate binds two proteins together — an emerging new concept in hormone biology and protein chemistry. The study also identifies the receptor’s crystal structure to provide the first molecular view of how plants ward off attacks by insects and pathogens.

In short, the work explains how a highly dynamic form of plant immunity is triggered, said Gregg Howe, biochemistry and molecular biology professor, who worked with fellow MSU professor Sheng Yang He on the study. The study is a collaboration between the MSU-Department of Energy Plant Research Laboratory and the University of Washington.

“In many respects, this receptor is novel in how it binds its target hormone to switch on gene expression,” Howe said. “Jasmonate appears to act as molecular glue that sticks two proteins together, which sets off a chain of events leading to the immune response. Determining the structure of the receptor solves a big missing piece of the puzzle.” read more

Michigan State Press Release
Jasmonate perception by inositol-phosphate-potentiated COI1–JAZ co-receptor