Plant nuclear hormone receptors: a role for small molecules in protein-protein interactions

Lumba S, Cutler S, McCourt P

Annu. Rev. Cell Dev. Biol. 2010;26:445-69

PMID: 20590451


Plant hormones are a group of chemically diverse small molecules that direct processes ranging from growth and development to biotic and abiotic stress responses. Surprisingly, genome analyses suggest that classic animal nuclear hormone receptor homologs do not exist in plants. It now appears that plants have co-opted several protein families to perceive hormones within the nucleus. In one solution to the problem, the hormones auxin and jasmonate (JA) act as “molecular glue” that promotes protein-protein interactions between receptor F-boxes and downstream corepressor targets. In another solution, gibberellins (GAs) bind and elicit a conformational change in a novel soluble receptor family related to hormone-sensitive lipases. Abscisic acid (ABA), like GA, also acts through an allosteric mechanism involving a START-domain protein. The molecular identification of plant nuclear hormone receptors will allow comparisons with animal nuclear receptors and testing of fundamental questions about hormone function in plant development and evolution.