Endoreduplication (somatic polyploidy) is a developmental process described in many eukaryotes. This phenomenon represents a growing field of interest in plant biology since it characterises the switch between cell proliferation and cell differentiation during development.
However its physiological role remains largely unknown. In order to study the molecular mechanisms governing the transition between mitosis and endoreduplication, we will take advantage of tomato fruit as a biological model in which pericarp tissue can reach a ploidy of 512C. This project is based on a candidate gene approach, namely the WEE1 gene.
The phosphorylation target of the WEE1 kinase is the Cyclin-Dependent-Kinase (CDK) subunit of mitotic CDK/Cyclin complexes, thus inactivating their activity. To characterize the function of WEE1, we will test its ability to inhibit in vivo CDK/Cyclin kinase activity. The putative interactors of WEE1 will be searched by a two-hybrid screen. The in planta functional analysis of WEE1 will be assessed by characterizing wee1-antisense tomato plants previously obtained in the host lab. The originality of the project resides in an integrative approach to combine transcriptome and metabolome analysis of wild type and wee1-antisense plants for deciphering the role of WEE1 and endoreduplication in fruit development and composition. Importantly, the project benefits both from the expertise that the applicant acquired during his mobility period, and from the host laboratory leading position in the plant endoreduplication field. New insights resulting from this reintegration programme will form a strong basis for a long-term project in studying the physiological role of endoreduplication, through a permanent position inside the host laboratory. The expected results should contribute to our general understanding of the endoreduplication contribution in the elaboration of the final fruit size, and to improve the current knowledge in fruit development and quality.
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