Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana) MAP KINASE (MPK) proteins can function in multiple MAP kinase cascades and physiological processes. For instance, MPK4 functions in regulating development as well as in plant defense by participating in two independent MAP kinase cascades: the MEKK1-MKK1/MKK2-MPK4 cascade promotes basal resistance against pathogens and is guarded by the NB-LRR protein SUMM2, whereas the ANPs-MKK6-MPK4 cascade plays an essential role in cytokinesis. Here, we report a novel role for MKK6 in regulating plant immune responses. We found that MKK6 functions similarly to MKK1/MKK2 and works together with MEKK1 and MPK4 to prevent autoactivation of SUMM2-mediated defense responses. Interestingly, loss of MKK6 or ANP2/ANP3 results in constitutive activation of plant defense responses. The autoimmune phenotypes of mkk6 and anp2 anp3 mutant plants can be largely suppressed by a constitutively active mpk4 mutant. Further analysis showed that the constitutive defense response in anp2 anp3 is dependent on the defense regulators PAD4 and EDS1, but not on SUMM2, suggesting that the ANP2/ANP3-MKK6-MPK4 cascade may be guarded by a TIR-NB-LRR protein. Our study shows that MKK6 has multiple functions in plant defense responses in addition to cytokinesis.

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