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[Frontier Leaders] Dissection and use of plant receptor kinase-mediated innate immunity

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Cyril Zipfel, The Sainsbury Laboratory, Norwich Research Park, Norwich, UK

When 31 Mar, 2016 from
11:00 am to 12:00 pm
Where Auditorium
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Frontier Leaders Seminar


Title: Dissection and use of plant receptor kinase-mediated innate immunity

Speaker: Cyril Zipfel

Affiliation: The Sainsbury Laboratory, Norwich Research Park, Norwich, UK



As in animals, the first layer of plant innate immune recognition relies on the perception of pathogen-associated molecular patterns by pattern recognition receptors (PRRs). In plants, all known PRRs are cell surface ligand-binding receptor kinases or receptor-like proteins (which unlike receptor kinases lack an intracellular kinase domain; hence, requiring heteromeric complex formation with accessory receptor kinases). It is now becoming increasingly clear that plant PRRs are part of multimeric protein complexes at the plasma membrane, in a manner similar to the Myddosome for mammalian Toll-like receptors. In my presentation, I will present our recent work that shed light on the molecular mechanisms that control the activation of plant PRR complexes and of downstream cell-autonomous immune responses. In addition, I will illustrate how the use of plant PRRs represents a promising biotechnological tool to engineer disease resistance in crops.


Speaker's short biography/CV:

Cyril Zipfel is the Head of The Sainsbury Laboratory, Norwich (UK) and hold the Chair of Plant Immunology at the University of East Anglia in Norwich (UK). After performing his doctoral and post-doctoral research in the laboratories of Profs. Thomas Boller and Jonathan Jones, respectively, he started his independent group at The Sainsbury Laboratory, Norwich (UK) in 2007. He is a pioneer and leader in the field of plant innate immunity. His work is focused on understanding the molecular basis of plant innate immunity mediated by surface-localized immune receptors. He was awarded a competitive European Research Council Starting grant in 2012, is a Highly Cited Researcher (2014, 2015), and was awarded the prestigious Charles Albert Shull Award from the American Society of Plant Biologists in 2015.

He revealed the importance of pathogen-associated molecular pattern (PAMP) perception for plant immunity (Nature 2004; Cell 2006) and the role played by the co-receptor BAK1 in the initiation of immune signalling (Nature 2007; Plant Cell 2011; PLoS Pathogens 2011; Science 2013). His lab connected pattern-recognition receptor (PRR) activation to immune outputs (Science 2013; Science 2014, Mol. Cell 2014) and revealed how bacterial effectors inhibit PRR-mediated immunity (EMBO J. 2013, Science 2014). He also discovered mechanisms that constrain the activity of PRR complexes (Current Biology 2014; Plant Cell 2014; EMBO J. 2014; Cell Host Microbe, 2014). His work uncovered the complex regulation of immune signalling initiation at the plasma membrane, and similarities to signalling from Toll-like receptors in animals. He frequently contributes to theoretical developments of the innate immunity field (e.g. Curr. Op. Immunol. 2008; Curr. Op. Microbiol. 2011; Mol. Cell 2014; Trends Immunol. 2014; Nature Immunol. 2015; Nature Biotech. 2015), and many of his findings are now textbook knowledge. In addition, his work has created opportunities for PRR-based immunity to improve disease resistance in crops (Nature Biotech. 2010; Mol. Plant Microbe Interac. 2014; New Phytologist 2014; PLoS Pathogens 2015a, 2015b), resulting in significant interest from the crop genetics and seed industries.


Selected references:

  • Holton et al. (2015) PLoS Pathog., 1(1): e1004602.
  • Monaghan et al. (2014) Cell Host Microbe, 16(5): 605-615.
  • Segonzac et al. (2014) EMBO J., 33(18): 2069-2079.
  • Zipfel (2014) Trends Immunol., 35(7): 345-351.
  • Macho & Zipfel C (2014) Mol. Cell, 54(2): 263-272.
  • Kadota et al. (2014) Mol. Cell, 54 (1): 43-55.
  • Macho et al. (2014) Science, 343 (6178): 1509-1512.
  • Sun et al. (2013) Science, 342 (6158): 624-628.
  • Lacombe et al. (2010) Nature Biotech., 28(4): 365-369.
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