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Designing microProteins to alter growth processes in crop plants

Final Report Summary - MIPDESIGN (Designing microProteins to alter growth processes in crop plants)

The goal of the miPDesign project was to use synthetic microProteins to control developmental pathways in crop plants. Several developmental processes are regulated by transcription factors that underlie post-translational regulation by microProteins. However, understanding how these small proteins act at the molecular level is still unknown. In order to being able to control developmental processes in the model plant Arabidopsis but also in economically important crops, we need to be able to design microProteins that fulfil these requirements. In the framework of the grant, we used synthetic microProteins to change the flowering behavior of rice. We also developed a computational program to predict microProtein genes in any sequenced genome. The latter approach enabled us to identify a microProtein in a grass plant that functions as a general branching regulator in rice and barley plants. In order to document the universality of microProtein regulation, we developed a number of synthetic microProteins that enabled us to control diverse biological pathways. Thus, microProteins are emerging as important factors that control developmental programs and they can be modified for biotechnological purposes.