Project number 4

Sulfenic acid identification in crops under oxidative stress

Reactive oxygen species (ROS) are partially reduced oxygen species, like hydrogen peroxide, and superoxide radicals. They can modify different biomolecules, including oligonucleotides, sugars, proteins, and lipids, ultimately leading to oxidative destruction of the cell. In plants, ROS are accumulated during abiotic and biotic stress (drought, extreme temperatures and various pathogen attacks), leading to severe crop yield losses worldwide due to their adverse effect on plant growth and development. However, tightly regulated, ROS act as signal transducers orchestrating plant development and metabolic adaptation to stress conditions. To get insights into these processes, we focus on the proteomic identification of the sulfenome. The sulfenome is the set of proteins in which a cysteine thiol (-SH) is oxidized to a sulfenic acid (-SOH). By in vivo trapping techniques, we recently identified redox active proteins involved in signal transduction, redox homeostasis and a plethora of other metabolic pathways in cell suspension cultures [1, 2].
In this project, you will use the expertise of both labs with sulfenic acid trapping technology for the development of a novel cheap and reliable trapping and identification method directly applicable on crops under stress. The method will be developed in the Messens lab and applied on crops (maize/wheat) in the Van Breusegem lab. Next you will use Chlamydomonas reinhardtii mutants as ‘phenotype-reader’ to select the best candidate for applying to crops (Van Breusegem lab), and for a detailed structural and functional study on its mode of action (Messens lab). If you are an enthusiastic and passionate student, who is interested in redox plant science and its applications, don’t hesitate to apply.

Keywords
oxidative stress, crops, structural-functional biology, C. reinhardtii phenotype-reader, sulfenic acid identification technology

Supervisors
Joris Messens, VIB Structural Biology Research Center, VUB, Brussels
Frank Van Breusegem, VIB Dept. of Plant Systems Biology, UGent, Gent