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Identification and characterization of key components involved in the early stages of SI-induced PCD in Papaver pollen


Self-incompatibility (SI) in plants prevents self-fertilization and is used to control sexual reproduction. SI is genetically controlled and involves cell-cell recognition between pollen and pistil so incompatible ("self") pollen is rejected. In Papaver rhoeas, SI triggers an intracellular signalling cascade in incompatible pollen, resulting in inhibition of pollen tube growth. The host lab has identified signals and mechanisms involved in SI, and recently published evidence in Nature that programmed cell death (PCD) involving a caspase-like activity is triggered by SI in Papaver pollen.

The scientific aims of this proposal are to identify and characterize key components involved in the early stages of SI-induced PCD in Papaver pollen, which are likely to be important regulators of PCD. The 3 objectives are: A. Characterization of mitochondrial alterations and their role in SI-induced PCD. We will use fluorescent live-cell temporal imaging to investigate mitochondrial permeability and activity. B. Ide ntification and characterization of early caspase-like activities triggered by SI. Caspase-specific peptide inhibitors will be used to identify and monitor different activities in live cells and extracts over time. C. Analysis of early cellular alterations and key targets of caspase activity. We will use a comparative proteomic approach combined with mass spectrometry.

The data generated will contribute considerably to our understanding of: (1) Early events responsible for initiating PCD, particularly the role of the mitochondria. (2) The nature of the initiator and downstream caspase-like activities involved in PCD. (3) The targets of these activities, providing insights into the protease/signalling cascades involved in PCD. Dr Maurice Bosch is a talented and promising scientist. The project will contribute to the transnational mobility of research and address Dr Bosch's career development needs by providing relevant research and complementary training.


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