Extracellular peptide Kratos restricts cell death during vascular development and stress in Arabidopsis
J Exp Bot. 2019, 70(7):2199-2210

Escamez S, Stael S, Vainonen J, Willems P, Jin H, Kimura S, Van Breusegem F, Gevaert K, Wrzaczek M, Tuominen H

During plant vascular development, xylem tracheary elements (TEs) form water-conducting, empty pipes through genetically regulated cell death. Cell death is prevented from spreading to non-TEs by unidentified intercellular mechanisms, downstream of METACASPASE9 (MC9)-mediated regulation of autophagy in TEs. Here, we identified differentially abundant extracellular peptides in vascular-differentiating wild type and MC9-downregulated Arabidopsis cell suspensions. The peptide Kratos rescued the abnormally high ectopic non-TE death resulting from either MC9 knockout or TE-specific overexpression of the ATG5 autophagy protein during experimentally induced vascular differentiation in Arabidopsis cotyledons. Kratos also reduced cell death following mechanical damage and extracellular ROS production in Arabidopsis leaves. Stress-induced but not vascular non-TE cell death was enhanced by another identified peptide, Bia. Bia is therefore reminiscent of several known plant cell death-inducing peptides acting as damage-associated molecular patterns. In contrast, Kratos plays a novel extracellular cell survival role in the context of development and during stress response.

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