The main goal of the “CrysPINS” project is to derive a model for the structure of PIN1 protein, starting with a loopless version (PIN1loopless), and optionally other PIN proteins, using techniques of molecular biology, biochemistry and crystallography. Members of PIN family are plant-specific auxin transporters, which play crucial role in plant morphogenesis, development and responses to the environment. Although it is well known that PIN proteins drive polar auxin transport, till nowadays the auxin research community is missing detailed functional and mechanistic models of these enigmatic transporters. My considerable experience from studying auxin metabolism and transport on the cellular and plant level, combined with the expertise at the University of Warwick in auxin recognition and the structural biology of mammalian membrane transporter proteins, makes it timely to move the science forward by a project focussed on the structure of PINs. My vision is that we will be able to develop a detailed molecular map of PINs together with associated pharmacophoric map for their substrates and inhibitors, a goal that will offer me an ideal system for further research focused on PINs auxin substrate specificity and transport capacity. On the way I will expect to reveal how the PINs are energized, and create links with the auxin herbicide industries to explore opportunities for collaborations on agro-pharmaceutical compound design.
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