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Investigating the TORC1 signaling pathway in the moss Physcomitrella and its application for enhanced production of valuable pharmaceutical compounds

Project description

The TORC1 signalling pathway and its application in moss-based biotechnology

The target of rapamycin complex 1 (TORC1) signalling pathway is highly conserved in eukaryotic cells and is involved in the regulation of cell growth and metabolism. Funded by the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions programme, the MossTOR project aims to characterise the TORC1 pathway in the early development protonema cells of the model organism, moss Physcomitrella patens. The objective is to test whether the modulation of the TORC1 pathway can improve moss-based biotechnological applications. The development of transgenic Physcomitrella patens lines with hyperactive TORC1 signalling will allow production testing of human recombinant complement proteins or of the drug artemisinin, used in the treatment of malaria.


The Target of Rapamycin Complex 1 (TORC1) signaling pathway, involved in the coordination of cell growth and metabolism, is highly conserved among eukaryotes, including seed plants and algae. Studies have shown that its activity could be tuned to enhance plant growth, yield and resistance to stress, or accumulation of triacylglycerol in algae, thus indicating that its power could be harnessed to improve diverse plant biotechnological applications. In this project, I aim to characterize the TORC1 pathway for the first time in the moss Physcomitrella (Physcomitrium patens), a model organism of non-seed plants, using protonema cells as a study system. This is linked to another important goal, to test whether the activity of TORC1 can be modulated in order to improve moss-based biotechnological applications. Besides the identification of a functional TORC1 in Physcomitrella, I will develop transgenic lines with hyperactive TORC1 signaling, phenotypically and metabolically analyzing them, and in collaboration with Mosspiration Biotech, test if these lines could produce more human recombinant complement proteins or the drug artemisinin, used to treat patients with complement disorders or malaria, respectively. Enhancing this yield will result in a stable, sustainable and eco-friendly production platform. It would also lead to a reduced price, for instance of artemisinin-based treatments, thus allowing poor communities most affected by malaria to contain the disease. Should this project be successful, it will open the door to improve the yield of diverse well-established products from Physcomitrella, valuable metabolites, active pharmaceutical ingredients and biopharmaceutical proteins.



Net EU contribution
€ 237 109,20
79098 Freiburg

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Baden-Württemberg Freiburg Freiburg im Breisgau, Stadtkreis
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
EU contribution
No data

Partners (1)