Plant nucleotide-binding leucine-rich repeat receptors (NLRs) regulate immunity and cell death. In Arabidopsis, a subfamily of “helper” NLRs is required by many “sensor” NLRs. Active NRG1.1 oligomerized, was enriched in plasma membrane puncta, and conferred cytoplasmic calcium ion (Ca2+) influx in plant and human cells. NRG1.1-dependent Ca2+ influx and cell death were sensitive to Ca2+ channel blockers and were suppressed by mutations affecting oligomerization or plasma membrane enrichment. Ca2+ influx and cell death mediated by NRG1.1 and ACTIVATED DISEASE RESISTANCE 1 (ADR1), another helper NLR, required conserved negatively charged N-terminal residues. Whole-cell voltage-clamp recordings demonstrated that Arabidopsis helper NLRs form Ca2+-permeable cation channels to directly regulate cytoplasmic Ca2+ levels and consequent cell death. Thus, helper NLRs transduce cell death signals directly.
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