Research objectives and content
Geminiviruses infect monocotyledonous and dicotyledonous plants. They can replicate in the host cells influencing their cell cycle . The wheat dwarf geminivirus codes for two proteins Rep and RepA. Rep binds to a recently identified plant Retinoblastoma protein (Rb). Rb is known as key regulator of the cell cycle in mammalian cells, where it interacts with a variety of proteins. The plant cell cycle is thought to have similar components as the mammals, but only a few of them are identified. Plants have a different developmental concept as compared to animals and these differences could be reflected on the cellular and molecular level. The project has two objectives: (A) The identification of new proteins involved in the plant cell cycle by using the plant Rb in a yeast-two-hybrid system to find interacting proteins (B) The study of the influence of the viral proteins Rep and RepA on the plant cell cycle. Rep or RepA will be introduced into synchronized wheat cell cultures. Its effects will be observed monitoring the expression on protein and RNA level of newly identified proteins (from part A) as well a of already established markers of the cell cycle. These markers are for example proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA), cyclin dependent kinase (CDK) and Rb itself.
Training content (objective, benefit and expected impact)
The host laboratory has expert knowledge on the molecular biology of geminiviruses and the viral strategies used to infect susceptible plants. It is one of the two laboratories having identified the first Retinoblastoma proteins from plants. It provides experience on handling tissue culture systems of monocotyledonous plants, which will be used as model system in the project. This is an excellent basis to study effects of viral infection on the plant cell cycle. Moreover, the laboratory is a part of a large research center harboring researchers from various fields of plant and animal biology, allowing a broad exchange of information. Links with industry / industrial relevance (22)
The Friedrich Miescher-Institut (place of PhD) is a non-profit research institute belonging to Novartis, Switzlerland.