Yuelin Zhang

Faculty Profile

Faculty Profile

Photo by: Elaine Simons Lane
Associate Professor

We are interested in how local resistance and systemic acquired resistance are regulated in plants.

B.Sc. Genetics (1989), Fudan Univ.;
Ph.D. Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (1995), Oklahoma State Univ.;
Postdoctoral Fellow (1995-1998), Dept. of Chemistry, UNC-Chapel Hill;
Postdoctoral Fellow (1998-1999), DCMB, Duke Univ.;
Assistant Professor (honorary appointment) (2001-2005), Michael Smith Laboratories, UBC;
Assistant (2005-2011) and Associate (2011) Investigator, National Institute of Biological Sciences, Beijing.

Contact Information

Office Room 2207/Lab 2214 Biological Sciences Building

Research Interests

Sensing and defending against microbial infections is essential to the survival of multicellular organisms. Recognition of PAMPs (pathogen-associated molecular patterns) or effector proteins from pathogens by plant immune receptors leads to activation of downstream signaling cascades and plant resistance to pathogens at the infection site. Activation of local defense further induces a secondary immune response in the distal parts of plants termed systemic acquired resistance (SAR). Our research is focused on the following two areas.

1. Signal Transduction Pathways downstream of Plant Immune Receptors
In plants, there are three main classes of immune receptors. The largest class encodes intracellular NB-LRR type Resistance (R) proteins. The other two classes belong to the transmembrane receptor-like kinase (RLK) and receptor-like protein (RLP) families. We have obtained a series of mutants such as snc2-1D, snc4-1D, bir1-1, and mkk1 mkk2 that constitutively activate immunity mediated by these three classes of immune receptors. To identify components downstream of the receptors, suppressor screens have been performed in these mutant backgrounds. Cloning the suppressor genes and analyzing biochemical functions of proteins encoded by them will help us build the signal transduction network of plant immunity.

2. Systemic Acquired Resistance
Genetic analysis of SAR has been hampered by lack of good assays for studying SAR in Arabidopsis. We developed an SAR assay in which we inoculated the local leaves with the bacterial pathogen P.s.m. ES4326 and assayed the distal leaves for induced resistance against the virulent oomycete pathogen H. a. Noco2. This new assay is sensitive and reproducible and it can be used to screen a large number of plants. Using this high-throughput assay, we have carried out both forward and reverse genetic screens to look for mutants with defects in SAR. Identification and characterization of genes required for SAR will help us better understand the underlining mechanisms of SAR.

Selected Publications

Liu, Y., Huang, X., Li, M., He, P. and Zhang, Y. 2016. Loss-of-function of Arabidopsis receptor-like kinase BIR1 activates cell death and defense responses mediated by BAK1 and SOBIR1. New Phytologist, doi: 10.1111/nph.14072. [Epub ahead of print].

Kong, Q., Sun, T., Qu, N., Ma, J., Li, M., Cheng, Y.-t., Zhang, Q., Wu, D., Zhang, Z. and Zhang, Y. 2016. Two redundant receptor-like cytoplasmic kinases function downstream of pattern recognition receptors to regulate activation of SA biosynthesis in Arabidopsis. Plant physiology, 171(2): 1344-1354.

Liang, X., Ding, P., Lian, K., Wang, J., Ma, M., Li, L., Li, L., Li, M., Zhang, X., Chen, S., Zhang, Y. (Co-corresponding author) and Zhou, J. 2016. Arabidopsis heterotrimeric G proteins regulate immunity by directly coupling to the FLS2 receptor. eLife 5, e13568.

Sun T., Zhang Y., Li Y., Zhang Q., Ding Y. and Zhang, Y. 2015. ChIP-seq analysis reveals broad roles of SARD1 and CBP60g in regulating plant immunity. Nature Communications, 6:10159.

Li, X., Kapos, P. and Zhang, Y. (2015). NLRs in plants. Current opinion in immunology, 32, 114-121.

Sun, T., Zhang, Q., Gao, M. and Zhang, Y. 2014. Regulation of SOBIR1 accumulation and activation of defense responses in bir1-1 by specific components of ER quality control. Plant Journal, 77(5):748-56.

Zhang, Z., Liu, Y., Ding, P., Li, Y., Kong, Q. and Zhang, Y.2014. Splicing of Receptor-like kinase-encoding SNC4 and CERK1 is regulated by two conserved splicing factors that are required for plant immunity. Molecular Plant, 7(12):1766-75.

Liu, J., Ding, P., Sun, T., Nitta, Y., Dong, O., Huang, X., Yang, W., Li, X., Botella, J. and Zhang, Y. 2013. Heterotrimeric G proteins serve as a converging point in plant defense signaling activated by multiple receptor-like kinases. Plant Physiology, 161(4), 2146-2158.

Zhang Z., Wu Y., Gao M., Zhang J., Kong Q., Liu Y., Ba H., Zhou J.M. and Zhang Y.  2012. Disruption of a PAMP-induced MAP Kinase Cascade Activates Plant Immunity Mediated by an NB-LRR Protein. Cell Host & Microbe,11(3):253-63.

Kong, Q., Qu, N., Gao, M., Zhang, Z., Ding, X., Yang, F., Li, Y., Dong, X., Chen, S., Li, X., and Zhang, Y.  2012. The MEKK1-MKK1/MKK2-MPK4 kinase cascade negatively regulates immunity mediated by a MAP kinase kinase kinase. Plant Cell, 24(5):2225-36.

Yang, Y., Zhang, Y., Ding, P., Johnson, K., Li, X., and Zhang Y. 2012. The ankyrin-repeat transmembrane protein BDA1 functions downstream of the receptor-like protein SNC2 to regulate plant immunity. Plant Physiology, 159(4):1857-65.

Xu, S., Zhang, Z., Jing, B., Gannon, P., Ding, J., Xu, F., Li, X. and Zhang, Y. 2011. Transportin-SR is required for proper splicing of resistance genes and plant immunity.  PLoS Genetics, 7(6): e1002159.

Jing, B., Xu, S., Xu, M., Li, Y., Li, S., Ding, J. and Zhang, Y. 2011. Brush and Spray: A high throughput systemic acquired resistance assay suitable for large-scale genetic screening. Plant Physiology, 157(3):973-80.

Germain, H., Qu, N., Cheng, Y.T., Lee, E.K., Huang, H., Dong, O.X., Gannon, P., Huang, S., Ding, P., Li, Y., Sack, F. and Zhang, Y. (co-corresponding), and Li X. 2010. MOS11: a new component in the mRNA export pathway. PLoS Genetics, 6(12): e1001250.

Zhang, Y., Xu, S., Ding, P., Wang, D., Cheng, Y., He, J., Gao, M., Xu, F., Li, Y., Zhu, Z., Li, X., and Zhang, Y. 2010. Control of salicylic acid synthesis and systemic acquired resistance by two members of a plant-specific family of transcription factors. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (track II).107(42):18220-18225.

Li, Y., Li, S., Bi, D., Cheng, Y., Li, X. and Zhang, Y. 2010. SRFR1 negatively regulates plant NB-LRR Resistance protein accumulation to prevent autoimmunity. PLoS PLoS Pathogens, 6 (9), e1001111.

Zhang, Y., Yang, Y., Fang, B., Gannon, P., Ding, P., Li, X., and Zhang, Y. 2010. snc2-1D activates receptor like protein-mediated immunity transduced through WRKY70. Plant Cell, 22(9):3153-3163.

Zhu, Z., Xu, F., Zhang, Y., Cheng, Y., Wiermer, M., Li, X., and Zhang, Y. 2010. Arabidopsis Resistance protein SNC1 activates immune responses through association with a transcriptional co-repressor. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences(track II). 107(31):13960-13965.

Bi, D., Cheng, Y., Li, X., and Zhang, Y. 2010. Activation of plant immune responses by a gain-of-function mutation in an atypical receptor-like kinase. Plant Physiology, 153(4):1771-1779.

Li, Y., Tessaro, M., Li, X., and Zhang, Y. 2010. Regulation of the expression of plant Resistance gene SNC1 by a Protein with a Conserved BAT2 Domain. Plant Physiology, 153(3):1425-1434.

Gao, M., Wang, X., Wang, D., Xu, F., Ding, X., Zhang, Z., Bi, D., Cheng, Y.T., Chen, S., Li, X., and Zhang, Y. 2009. Regulation of cell death and innate immunity by two receptor-like kinases in Arabidopsis. Cell Host & Microbe 6:34-44.

Gao, M., Liu, J., Bi, D., Zhang, Z., Cheng, F., Chen, S., and Zhang, Y. 2008. MEKK1, MKK1/MKK2 and MPK4 function together in a mitogen-activated protein kinase cascade to regulate innate immunity in plants. Cell Research 18:1190-1198. (Cover story)