Plasmodesmata are pores that interconnect plant cells and allow for the diffusion of small molecules as well as the selective intercellular trafficking of macromolecules. Recent research has shown them to be highly dynamic and regulated structures with en ormous influence on cell-cell communication and plant development as well as on both the systemic establishment of viral infections and the plant and aposs defense responses (RNA silencing).The plasmodesmal permeability for macromolecules can be altered by interaction with both plant-endogenous and viral proteins and it seems that some molecules, such as transcription factors, can be trafficked directionally and in a highly selective manner. The cellular machinery underlying macromolecular trafficking is so far poorly understood, due to the inaccessibility of plasmodesmata in the cell wall and the apparent lack of conserved trafficking signals in protein or RNA sequences. This project aims to identify novel proteins that are able to self-traffic between cell s, or have the ability to interact with, and dilate (gate), plasmodesmata.This will be achieved by using a novel viral vector-based transient expression system in combination with state-of-the-art live-cell-imaging techniques, together comprising a high-th roughput approach that will expand the range of tools available for postgenomic functional studies in plant molecular biology. Through the identification of new trafficking and gating proteins we expect to pin down some of the elusive components of the tra fficking machinery and the plasmodesmal pore itself. The results will form the basis of a mechanistic understanding of macromolecular trafficking and eventually lead to new applications in agronomically important areas such as the defense against viral cro p diseases and the manipulation of plant development.
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