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Membrane contact sites in plant cells

Membrane contact sites (MCS) represent physically tethered regions between membranes of cell compartments that allow communication and interaction. Within these MCS, various proteins mediate tethering, functioning and maintaining of the MCS. In contrast to the knowledge of MCS in mammalian cells or yeast, it is greatly unknown how plastids interact with the mitochondria, endoplasmic reticulum and other cellular compartments in the plant cell. This project aims to identify plant membrane contact sites and the involved proteins that mediate this type of interaction between organelles in the plants.

Vanessa Valencia
Building: 26.14
Floor/Room: 02.112
+49 211 81-12078


Role of DUF 3411 proteins in the interaction of plastids with the cytoplasm

Plants can biosynthesize all proteinogenic proteins de novo. Inside the cell, the amino acid synthesis is compartmentalized, with most amino acids being produced inside the chloroplast. However, it is still unknown how these amino acids are exported to the cytoplasm and how plastids during early stages of plastid development are supplied with amino acids from, e.g. seed storage proteins. In this project, we investigate plastidial membrane proteins containing a domain of unknown function (DUF3411) as a novel class of amino acid transporters in plant cells.

Karolina Vogel
Building: 26.14
Floor/Room: 02.112
+49 211 81-12078


Photorespiration – transport and integration in the cellular network

Photorespiration, also called C2 photosynthesis or “breathing in the light”, is essential process in photosynthetic organisms. The unspecificity of the CO2-fixing enzyme Rubisco, to also accept oxygen as substrate results in the production of 2-phosphoglycolate. Accumulating 2-phosphoglycolate inhibits several enzymes of the Calvin-Benson-Bassham cycle and needs to be detoxified. Although the core enzymes of the photorespiratory cycle are known,  A) several required transport proteins are unknown and B) the metabolic interaction of photorespiration with accessory metabolic pathways is less well understood. Within these projects we aim at A) characterizing novel photorespiratory transport protein and B) understand the integration of photorespiration in the cellular metabolic network.

Researchers: Nicole Linka


The role of transport proteins in cellular metabolism

Subcellular compartmentalization enabled pro- and eukaryotic organisms to target metabolic reaction into distinct organelles. To ensure metabolite flow within the metabolic network of the cell, organellar membranes contain pores, channels and transporters. This project aims to understand the roles of transport proteins in cellular metabolism by (A) biochemical characterization of recombinant proteins in vitro using liposome systems, (B) physiological characterization of loss-of-function mutants, and (C) in vivo analyses with isolated intact organelles.



The peroxisomal hub - Connecting metabolic pathways in plants

Peroxisomes are essential hubs for plant metabolism. They are involved in numerous metabolic processes, including photorespiration, fatty acid degradation, synthesis of signalling molecules and secondary products. Thus, a high number of substrates, intermediates and cofactors needs to be transported across the peroxisomal membrane. We study the flux of these metabolites by combining molecular biology, genetics and biochemistry. Our goal is to describe and fully understand how peroxisomes are connected to the metabolic network of plant cell.

Researchers: Katarzyna Krawczyk and Nicole Linka


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