CORDIS - EU research results
CORDIS

Dissecting the molecular mechanisms that execute developmental programmed cell death in plants

Project description

A deeper understanding of plant development and death

As a suicide mechanism adopted by multicellular organisms, programmed cell death (PCD) is essential for development and resistance to different forms of stress. In plants, it is involved from embryogenesis to death of the whole plant. The EU-funded EXECUT.ER project has established the Arabidopsis root cap as a novel model system for developmental PCD in plants. The model allows for the identification of a gene regulatory network controlling the preparation of PCD. Exploiting the accessibility of the root cap for live cell analysis of PCD execution, researchers obtained preliminary data revealing an unexpected succession of distinct membrane permeabilisation events in which the endoplasmic reticulum breaks up before the central vacuole. The detailed understanding of plant PCD execution will shed light on plant development and open new avenues for crop improvement and protection.

Objective

Programmed Cell Death (PCD) is fundamental to the development and health of multicellular organisms. However, our knowledge on developmentally controlled PCD in plants remains fragmentary, despite its undoubted significance for plant growth and reproduction.
My team has established the Arabidopsis root cap as a novel model system for developmental PCD in plants. This model has enabled us to identify a gene regulatory network controlling the preparation of PCD. However, the molecular processes that terminate the vital functions of a plant cell during the final steps of PCD execution remain unknown.
Exploiting the accessibility of the root cap for live-cell analysis of PCD execution, we obtained preliminary data revealing an unexpected succession of distinct membrane permeabilization events in which the endoplasmic reticulum breaks up before the central vacuole. I hypothesize that this sequential de-compartmentalization is the mechanism underlying the irreversible and orderly execution of PCD.
Recent advances in several key technologies provide unprecedented opportunities to test this hypothesis and make a quantum leap in our understanding of the mechanisms carrying out PCD execution.
I will employ correlative super-resolution light and electron microscopy to analyse PCD execution in unparalleled spatial and temporal resolution. RNA sequencing of single cells at the onset of PCD execution will provide information on the genes that are required for this rapid process. Advanced proteomics techniques will provide a direct route to identify proteins acting on membrane permeabilization during PCD execution. Lastly, multiplex and tissue-specific mutagenesis via innovative CRISPR screens will enable me to overcome genetic redundancy and lethality in the PCD context.
The detailed understanding of plant PCD execution generated by this research program will shed light on a fundamental principle of plant development and open new avenues for crop improvement and protection.

Host institution

VIB VZW
Net EU contribution
€ 1 999 963,00
Address
SUZANNE TASSIERSTRAAT 1
9052 ZWIJNAARDE - GENT
Belgium

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Region
Vlaams Gewest Prov. Oost-Vlaanderen Arr. Gent
Activity type
Research Organisations
Links
Total cost
€ 1 999 963,00

Beneficiaries (1)