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PROSPERO: Prion dOmainS in Plant Environmental RespOnse

Eukaryotic cells are compartmentalized into membrane-bound organelles and membrane-less bodies, rather than being amorphous mixtures of biomolecules. The membrane-less bodies are created through liquid-liquid phase separation (LLPS), which is initiated by intrinsic and extrinsic signals. For instance, proteins with intrinsically disordered regions (IDRs), such as prion-like domains (PrDs), promote LLPS due to their flexibility, lack of a defined 3D-structure, and ability to switch conformation. Indeed, the significance of PrD-dependent LLPS in plant biology has recently been emphasized, as several studies have highlighted its role in regulating plant development and physiology.

In the PROSPERO project, in collaboration with three French and one German partner, we are investigating the dynamics of PrDs in plant root development and their response to the environment. Transcriptional regulators that contain PrDs have recently been discovered to control root growth, development, and stress signals, and therefore act as developmental switches. By understanding how PrDs interact with the physiochemical environment, we can directly tune plant growth and stress responses.

We aim to determine the in vivo conditions under which LLPS of PrD-containing proteins occurs. For this purpose, we use various in vivo fluorescence techniques (e.g. FRAP, FRET-FLIM, fluorescence anisotropy) in simplified transient expression systems and transgenic Arabidopsis thaliana. The goal of this project is to determine the characteristics of the dynamics and stability of the condensed state in a functional biological context upon changing environmental cues.

  • Dr. Ali Eljebbawi  |  Building 26.14 Floor 00 Room 069 | +49 211 81-12991 | 

Our project part deals with LLPS of key transcriptional regulators involved in Arabidopsis thaliana root stem cell maintenance in response to external cues with a focus on the in vivo function of LLPS. This will be achieved by the analyses of genetic mutants in combination with advanced fluorescent microscopic techniques to also uncover the dynamics of the key regulators in response to differential external cues.