S-acylation stabilizes ligand-induced receptor kinase complex formation during plant pattern-triggered immune signaling

Plant receptor kinases are key transducers of extracellular stimuli, such as the presence of beneficial or pathogenic microbes or secreted signaling molecules. Receptor kinases are regulated by numerous post-translational modifications.1,2,3 Here, using the immune receptor kinases FLS24 and EFR,5 we show that S-acylation at a cysteine conserved in all plant receptor kinases is crucial for function. S-acylation involves the addition of long-chain fatty acids to cysteine residues within proteins, altering their biochemical properties and behavior within the membrane environment.6 We observe S-acylation of FLS2 at C-terminal kinase domain cysteine residues within minutes following the perception of its ligand, flg22, in a BAK1 co-receptor and PUB12/13 ubiquitin ligase-dependent manner. We demonstrate that S-acylation is essential for FLS2-mediated immune signaling and resistance to bacterial infection. Similarly, mutating the corresponding conserved cysteine residue in EFR suppressed elf18-triggered signaling. Analysis of unstimulated and activated FLS2-containing complexes using microscopy, detergents, and native membrane DIBMA nanodiscs indicates that S-acylation stabilizes, and promotes retention of, activated receptor kinase complexes at the plasma membrane to increase signaling efficiency.