EBP1: A crucial growth regulator downstream of receptor kinases across kingdoms

by Martin Stegmann

Controlling organ growth and development is crucial for all multicellular organisms and is controlled by plasma membrane localized receptor kinases (RKs) across kingdoms, including animals and plants. A central RK in plants is FERONIA (FER), which perceives endogenous rapid alkalinization factor (RALF) peptides to regulate a plethora of biological responses, including growth and development. However, it remained largely unknown how RALF sensing by FER at the plasma membrane is translated into a nuclear response. A key step forward is presented by Li and colleagues, who show that FER increases ERBB3 binding protein 1 (EBP1) mRNA translation and directly phosphorylates EBP1 to shift its subcellular localization from the cytoplasm to the nucleus where it controls growth and development through its regulation of transcription. Importantly, EBP1 is described as a transcriptional and translational regulator in mammals by acting downstream of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) signaling, suggesting that animals and plants use similar conserved pathways to fine-tune growth and development. Furthermore, this work highlights the importance of protein translation as a direct output of RK signaling, a mechanism that is largely unknown in plants.

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