A family of peptide signaling molecules (AtPeps) and their plasma membrane receptor AtPepR1 are known to act in pathogendefense signaling cascades in plants. Little is currently known about the molecular mechanisms that link these signaling peptides and their receptor, a leucine-rich repeat receptor-like kinase, to downstream pathogen-defense responses. We identify some cellular activities of these molecules that provide the context for a model for their action in signaling cascades. AtPeps activate plasma membrane inwardly conducting Ca 2+ permeable channels in mesophyll cells, resulting in cytosolic Ca 2+ elevation. This activity is dependent on their receptor as well as a cyclic nucleotide-gated channel (CNGC2). We also show that the leucine-rich repeat receptor- like kinase receptor AtPepR1 has guanylyl cyclase activity, generating cGMP from GTP, and that cGMP can activate CNGC2- dependent cytosolic Ca 2+ elevation. AtPep-dependent expression of pathogen-defense genes (PDF1.2, MPK3, and WRKY33) is mediated by the Ca 2+ signaling pathway associated with AtPep peptides and their receptor. The work presented here indicates that extracellular AtPeps, which can act as danger-associated molecular patterns, signal by interaction with their receptor, AtPepR1, a plasma membrane protein that can generate cGMP. Downstream from AtPep and AtPepR1 in a signaling cascade, the cGMP-activated channel CNGC2 is involved in AtPep- and AtPepR1-dependent inward Ca 2+ conductance and resulting cytosolic Ca 2+ elevation. The signaling cascade initiated by AtPeps leads to expression of pathogen- defense genes in a Ca 2+-dependent manner.
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