Navigation Links
Plants teach humans a thing or two about fighting diseases

Avoiding germs to prevent sickness is commonplace for people. Wash hands often. Sneeze into your elbow. Those are among the tips humans learn.

But plants, which are also vulnerable to pathogens, have to fend it alone. They grow where planted, in an environment teeming with microbes and other substances ready to attack, scientists note.

Now, researchers are learning from plants' immune response new information that could help them understand more about humans' ability to ward off sickness and avoid autoimmune diseases.

This week's journal Science reports findings by Texas AgriLife Research scientists of a "unique regulatory circuit" that controls how a plant turns on and off its immune sensor.

"Plants and animals live out their lives mostly in good health, though they may have been subjected to a lot of pathogenic microbes," said Dr. Libo Shan, AgriLife Research plant molecular biologist and lead author for the journal article. "Scientists all around the world have been interested in how a healthy host can fend off invasions of pathogens and turn off the defense responses promptly once the intruder risk factors are decreasing."

The research team found a "unique regulatory circuit" in which BAK1, a protein involved with cell death control and growth hormone regulation, recruits two enzymes -- PUB12 and PUB13 -- to the immune sensory complex and fine-tunes immune responses.

Basically, the surface of plant cells has sensors that sense microbial invasion. One of the best understood plant receptors is FLS2, found in the common laboratory plant Arabidopsis.

FLS2 could sense the bacterial flagellin, which is a part of the flagellum, or tail-like projection on cells which help it to move. When FLS2 perceives flagellin, a series of "evolutionary conserved immune responses" is activated to fend off bacterial attack, Shan said.

But the immune response can not stay activated or the plant will stop growing and producing.

"To avoid detrimental effects of long-lasting immune activation, plant and animal hosts need a way to switch the activation off," she noted. "How that can be has been a mystery to scientists."

The team discovered that the flagellin perception recruited PUB12 and PUB13 to the receptor FLS2 complex.

Those two enzymes could add a biochemical signature tag, ubiquitin, to the FLS2 receptors which inform sells to degrade the immune senors, she added.

As a result of these actions, immune signaling decreased.

Knowing how immune signaling works may help researchers devise ways to help plants and animals including humans regulate their immune systems.

Shan said the mechanism her lab discovered is very broad in that it can be found in both plants and animals.

"We needed to understand the mechanism so that we can regulate it better," she said. "The host needs to know when the signal is triggered (to fight off a pathogen). Then the immune response needs to go quickly up and then back down when it is no longer needed."

Shan believes that this ability could lead to cures, rather than medical relief, from an assortment of ailments including allergies and autoimmune diseases.

"Plants have figured out how to survive in terms of disease and pest resistance," she added. "And what we learn from them at the molecular level might help us understand animal pathogens better."


Contact: Kathleen Phillips
Texas A&M AgriLife Communications

Related biology news :

1. Study reveals important aspects of signaling across cell membranes in plants
2. Healing times for dental implants could be cut
3. Adjustable valves gave ancient plants the edge
4. First-of-its-kind fluorescence map offers a new view of the worlds land plants
5. Tapping into plants is the key to combat climate change, says scientist
6. Researchers from the Viikki Biocenter discover how plants control the formation of wood cells
7. Medicines from plants
8. UF research aims to help preserve plants, animals caught between forest fragments
9. Turning plants into power houses
10. NRELs multi-junction solar cells teach scientists how to turn plants into powerhouses
11. Discovery of DNA silencing mechanism reveals how plants protect their genome
Post Your Comments:
(Date:3/30/2017)... 30, 2017  On April 6-7, 2017, will ... hackathon at Microsoft,s headquarters in ... focus on developing health and wellness apps that provide ... the Genome is the first hackathon for personal ... largest companies in the genomics, tech and health industries ...
(Date:3/30/2017)... 2017 Trends, opportunities and forecast in this ... technology (fingerprint, AFIS, iris recognition, facial recognition, hand geometry, ... end use industry (government and law enforcement, commercial and ... and others), and by region ( North America ... Asia Pacific , and the Rest of the ...
(Date:3/28/2017)... The report "Video Surveillance Market ... Storage Devices), Software (Video Analytics, VMS), and Service (VSaaS, ... to 2022", published by MarketsandMarkets, the market was valued ... to reach USD 75.64 Billion by 2022, at a ... year considered for the study is 2016 and the ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:10/9/2017)... ... ... At its national board meeting in North Carolina, ARCS® Foundation President ... and Astronomy, has been selected for membership in ARCS Alumni Hall of Fame ... Prize in Fundamental physics for the discovery of the accelerating expansion of the universe, ...
(Date:10/7/2017)... ... October 06, 2017 , ... ... instruments and applications consulting for microscopy and surface analysis, Nanoscience Instruments is ... Nanoscience Analytical offers a broad range of contract analysis services for advanced ...
(Date:10/6/2017)... ... 06, 2017 , ... The HealthTech Venture Network (HTVN) is ... fourth annual Conference where founders, investors, innovative practitioners and collaborators are invited to ... showcasing early stage digital health and med tech companies. , This day-long event ...
(Date:10/5/2017)... PA (PRWEB) , ... October 05, 2017 , ... Understanding ... the newest frontiers in human health. Gut Love: You Are My Future, the newest ... an artist’s perspective as it explores the human condition through the lens of the ...
Breaking Biology Technology: