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B07 - Structural and functional study of mixed lineage kinase domain-like proteins in plants and animals

Jijie Chai

Institute for Biochemistry, University of Cologne
Contact: jchai(at)uni-koeln.de
For more information visit: Chai lab

Takaki Maekawa

The Institute for Plant Sciences, University of Cologne
Contact: takaki.maekawa(at)uni-koeln.de
For more information visit: Maekawa lab

Ana J. Garcia-Saez

Institute for genetics, CECAD, University of Cologne
Contact: garcia-office(at)uni-koeln.de
For more information see: Garcia-Saez lab


The discovery of a new protein family in seed plants that is structurally and functionally homologous to animal Mixed lineage kinase domain-like (MLKL) protein, the executioner of necroptosis in animal cells, provided evidence that similar mechanisms may induce plasma membrane permeabilisation in plants and animals. This project aims to understand the molecular principles of MLKL-mediated cell death and immunity by determining and comparing the nanoscale organisation and cellular dynamics of this protein family in plant and animal cells.

Recent Publications


Crean, E.E., Bilstein-Schloemer, M., Maekawa, T., Schulze-Lefert, P. and Saur, I.M.L. (2023) A dominant-negative avirulence effector of the barley powdery mildew fungus provides mechanistic insight to barley MLA immune receptor activation. J Exp Bot. doi: 10.1093/jxb/erad285


Maekawa, T., Kashkar, H. & Coll, N.S. Dying in self-defence: a comparative overview of immunogenic cell death signalling in animals and plants. Cell Death Differ (2022). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41418-022-01060-6 (review)

Xu, L., Wang, J., Xiao, Y., Han, Z., Chai, J. (2022) Structural insight into chitin perceptionby chitin elicitor receptor kinase 1 of Oryza sativa. J Integr Plant Biol. 2022 May 14. doi: 10.1111/jipb.1327


Bauer, S., Yu, D., Lawson, A.W., Saur, I.M.L., Frantzeskakis, L., Kracher, B., Logemann, E., Chai, J., Maekawa, T., Schulze-Lefert, P. (2021) The leucine-rich repeats in allelic barley MLA immune receptors define specificity towards sequence-unrelated powdery mildew avirulence effectors with a predicted common RNase-like fold. PLoS Pathog 17(2): e1009223. doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1009223


Mahdi, L.K., Huang, M., Zhang, X., Nakano, R.T., Kopp, L.B., Saur, I.M.L., Jacob, F., Kovacova, V., Lapin, D., Parker, J.E., Murphy, J.M., Hofmann, K., Schulze-Lefert, P., Chai, J., Maekawa, T. (2020) Discovery of a Family of Mixed Lineage Kinase Domain-like Proteins in Plants and Their Role in Innate Immune Signaling. Cell Host & Microbe https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chom.2020.08.012

Project related Publications