Programmed cell death (PCD) is recognized to be a fundamental process found in all eukaryotes ranging from yeasts, plants and animals. In animal apoptosis, a specialized form of PCD, the core death engine is highly conserved with a family of specialized cysteine proteases called caspases as the determinate executioner. In plants and yeasts, however, canonical caspases are absent from sequenced genomes and instead, a family of distantly related cysteine proteases called metacaspases were identified through structure-based iterative database searches. In this proposed project, the function of selected metacaspase genes in the model plant Arabidopsis (mouse-ear cress) will be studied through detailed genetic, molecular, cell biological and biochemical analyses. Specifically, the investigator aims to uncover some of the upstream regulators and downstream targets of metacaspases. This proposed work will thus provide the foundation for a comprehensive understanding of the regulatory pathways involving metacaspases and cell death regulation in higher plants. Comparison to related studies with animal caspases will provide a better framework for understanding the evolution of PCD in higher eukaryotes. In a broader context, this study should contribute to our understanding of plant responses to biotic and abiotic stresses since PCD is often associated with these conditions, and thus provide important knowledge for future crop improvement. This project will also have broader impact in providing a diversified, interdisciplinary training to postdoctoral researchers. In addition, the investigators will also provide research experience for undergraduate, graduate and high school students through the Douglass Women in Science and George H. Cook Scholar programs of Rutgers University, and the RISE summer research program for high schools.
|Effective start/end date||4/1/08 → 3/31/12|
- National Science Foundation (National Science Foundation (NSF))