DCD - a novel plant specific domain in proteins involved in development and programmed cell death.
BACKGROUND: Recognition of microbial pathogens by plants triggers the hypersensitive reaction, a common form of programmed cell death in plants. These dying cells generate signals that activate the plant immune system and alarm the neighboring cells as well as the whole plant to activate defense responses to limit the spread of the pathogen. The molecular mechanisms behind the hypersensitive reaction are largely unknown except for the recognition process of pathogens. We delineate the NRP-gene in soybean, which is specifically induced during this programmed cell death and contains a novel protein domain, which is commonly found in different plant proteins. RESULTS: The sequence analysis of the protein, encoded by the NRP-gene from soybean, led to the identification of a novel domain, which we named DCD, because it is found in plant proteins involved in development and cell death. The domain is shared by several proteins in the Arabidopsis and the rice genomes, which otherwise show a different protein architecture. Biological studies indicate a role of these proteins in phytohormone response, embryo development and programmed cell by pathogens or ozone. CONCLUSIONS: It is tempting to speculate, that the DCD domain mediates signaling in plant development and programmed cell death and could thus be used to identify interacting proteins to gain further molecular insights into these processes.