The genome sequence has revealed that plants contain a much larger complement of receptor kinase genes than other organisms. Early analysis of these genes revealed involvement in a diverse array of developmental and defense functions that included gametophyte development, pollen-pistil interactions, shoot apical meristem equilibrium, hormone perception, and cell morphogenesis. Amino acid sequence motifs and binding studies indicate that the ectodomains are capable of binding, either directly or indirectly, various classes of molecules including proteins, carbohydrates, and steroids. Genetic and biochemical approaches have begun to identify other components of several signal transduction pathways. Some receptor-like kinases (RLKs) appear to function with coreceptors lacking kinase domains, and genome analysis suggests this might be true for many RLKs. The KAPP protein phosphatase functions as a negative regulator of at least two RLK systems, and in vitro studies suggest it could be a common component of more. Whether plant signaling systems display a modularity similar to animal systems remains to be determined. Future efforts will reveal unknown functions of other RLKs and elucidate the relationships among their signaling networks.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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