Author: R. Dóczi 1
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  • 1 Agricultural Research Institute of The Hungarian Academy of Sciences Plant Cell Biology Department Martonvásár Hungary
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Due to their sessile life style plants have to cope with a variety of unfavourable environmental conditions. Extracellular stimuli are perceived by specific sensors and receptors and are transmitted within the cell by various signal transduction pathways to trigger appropriate responses. The mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinase cascades are well-conserved signalling pathway modules found in all eukaryotes. Activated MAP kinases phosphorylate an array of substrate proteins. Phosphorylation results in altered substrate activities that mediate a wide range of responses, including changes in gene expression. The genome of the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana contains genes encoding 20 mitogen-activated protein kinases and 10 MAPK kinases. In plants MAP kinases play a central role in environmental stress signalling; however, our knowledge mainly comes from results on three MAP kinases and their immediate upstream activators. Further studies on additional members of the plant MAP kinase repertoire together with the identification of downstream substrates and connections to specific upstream signal receptors are required to elucidate their specific functions within environmental stress signalling networks. Understanding the mechanisms of specificity in signal flow is indispensable for engineering improved crops with modified MAP kinase signalling for agricultural purposes.

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