Receptor-like cytoplasmic kinases (RLCKs) are receptor kinases that lack extracellular ligand-binding domains and have emerged as a major class of signaling proteins that regulate plant cellular activities in response to biotic/abiotic stresses and endogenous extracellular signaling molecules. We have identified a rice RLCK (OsRLCK311) that was significantly higher in transgenic pSARK-IPT rice (Oryza sativa
) that exhibited enhanced growth under saline conditions. Overexpression of OsRLCK311 full-length protein (RLCK311FL) and the C-terminus of OsRLCK311 (ΔN) in Arabidopsis confirmed its role in salinity tolerance, both in seedlings and mature plants. Protein interaction assays indicated that OsRLCK311 and ΔN interacted in-vivo with the plasma membrane AQP AtPIP2;1. The RLCK311-PIP2;1 binding led to alterations in the stomata response to ABA, which was characterized by more open stomata of transgenic plants. Moreover, OsRLCK311-ΔN effect in mediating enhanced plant growth under saline conditions was also observed in the perennial grass Brachypodium sylvaticum
, confirming its role in both dicots and monocots species. Lastly, OsRLCK311 interacted with the rice OsPIP2;1. We suggest that the rice OsRLCK311 play a role in regulating the plant growth response under saline conditions via the regulation of the stomata response to stress. This role seems to be independent of the RLCK311 kinase activity, since the overexpression of the RLCK311 C-terminus (ΔN), which lacks the kinase full domain, has a similar phenotype to RLCK311FL.
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