Project number 13

The interplay of endocytosis and signaling. How do plant receptors integrate trafficking and signaling?

Clathrin-mediated endocytosis (CME) is a major pathway for the uptake of extracellular and plasma membrane material in all eukaryotic cells. An emerging paradigm is that interactions between the endocytic pathway and intracellular signaling are key to fine-tuning signaling outputs in developmental and organismal contexts. CME depends on an evolutionarily conserved core machinery that besides clathrin comprises the adaptor protein complex-2 (AP-2). This project integrates biochemical, biophysical, and molecular biology approaches at the interface of plant biology and structural biology to unravel the mechanistic principles underlying the recruitment of activated plasma membrane signaling receptors into clathrin-coated vesicles in the model plant, Arabidopsis thaliana. In particular, we will study the interactions between plant membrane receptors with function in hormone signaling and that are known to undergo CME, and different subunits of AP-2. We will aim to characterize direct interactions between cargo molecules and AP-2 and to identify binding pockets and amino acid residues mediating functionally relevant interaction interfaces. Furthermore, we will develop approaches to delineate interacting residues that might be post-translationaly modified upon receptor activation. The proposed collaborative doctoral project will be hosted by the VIB Department of Plant Systems Biology and the VIB Inflammation Research Center, which share a state-of-the-art research building on the campus of Ghent University, and will fall under the auspices of the doctoral program in Biochemistry and Biotechnology at Ghent University.

Keywords
clathrin, endocytosis, adaptors, receptors, protein-ligand interactions, Arabidopsis

Supervisors
Jenny Russinova, VIB Dept. of Plant Systems Biology, UGent, Gent
Savvas Savvides, VIB Inflammation Research Center, UGent, Gent