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Membrane-Associated Ubiquitin Ligase (SAUL1) supresses temperature- and humidity-dependent autoimmunity in Arabidopsis

Plants have evolved elaborate mechanisms to regulate pathogen defense. Imbalances in this regulation may result in autoimmune responses that are affecting plant growth and development. In Arabidopsis, SAUL1 encodes a plant U-box ubiquitin ligase and regulates senescence and cell death. Here, we show that saul1-1 plants exhibit characteristics of an autoimmune mutant. A decrease in relative humidity or temperature resulted in reduced growth and systemic lesioning of saul1-1 rosettes. These hysiological changes are associated with increased expression of salicylic acid–dependent and pathogenesis-related (PR) genes. Consistently, resistance of saul1-1 plants against Pseudomonas syringae pv. maculicola ES4326, P. syringae pv. tomato DC3000, or Hyaloperonospora arabidopsidis Noco2 was enhanced. Transmission electron microscopy revealed alterations in saul1-1 chloroplast ultrastructure and cell-wall depositions. Confocal analysis on aniline blue–stained leaf sections and cellular universal micro spectrophotometry further showed that these cell-wall depositions contain callose and lignin. To analyze signaling downstream of SAUL1, we performed epistasis analyses between saul1-1 and mutants in the EDS1/PAD4/SAG101 hub. All phenotypes observed in saul1-1 plants at low temperature were dependent on EDS1 and PAD4 but not SAG101. Taken together, SAUL1 negatively regulates immunity upstream of EDS1/PAD4, likely through the degradation of an unknown activator of the pathway.

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