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SUMO — Result In Brief

Project ID: 205927
Funded under: FP7-IDEAS-ERC
Country: Spain

Understanding protein regulation for better crops

An EU-funded initiative set out to develop beneficial traits in crops by achieving a better understanding of the way proteins are regulated in plants.
Understanding protein regulation for better crops
Regulation of protein activity is vital for all biological processes. In plants, small ubiquitin-like modifier (SUMO) plays an important role in regulating virtually all aspects of plant growth and development, including plant capacity to tolerate pathogens infections and abiotic environmental challenges. SUMO also regulates abscisic acid (ABA) signalling, a plant hormone that mediates environmental stress responses, and flowering.

The goal of the SUMO (Study of the role of protein posttranslational modification by SUMO (small ubiquitin-like modifier) in abscisic acid signaling and stress responses in plants) project was to increase understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying SUMO action in the model organism Arabidopsis in order to develop useful tools for improving crops. SUMO proteins are a family of small proteins that are attached and detached from other proteins in cells in order to modify their function.

Researchers studied the biological role of SUMO during seed development and germination, and worked to identify new SUMO targets. They also investigated molecular factors responsible for the recognition of SUMO conjugates and identified molecular mechanisms that control SUMO conjugation. This information will enable researchers to manipulate the conjugation capacity of the plant in order to generate crops that are more tolerant to adverse environmental conditions.

Scientists also found that SUMO conjugation plays an important role in seed maturation and the early phases of seed germination, which suggests that SUMO is a key regulator of plant developmental transitions. The project also identified SUMO targets and SUMO interaction proteins, which are the molecular effectors of the SUMO biological role. The candidates identified included ABA signalling and seed-specific proteins.

Data generated by the SUMO project will allow scientists to gain a clearer understanding of plant processes and to eventually design plants with improved agronomical traits.

Related information


Protein regulation, crops, plants, small ubiquitin-like modifier, stress responses, abscisic acid
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