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SymPore - "Plasmodesmata as Symplasmic Pores for Plant Cell-to-Cell Communication"

During evolution of multicellularity, cells differentiated to become specialized and interdependent. Multicellular organisms invented channels for nutrient exchange and communication between cells. Plants uniquely developed plasmodesmata, complex cell-cell connections traversing the cell wall. Roles ascribed to plasmodesmata include selective transport of signals, ions, metabolites, RNAs and proteins. Due to technical hurdles, composition, structure and regulation of plasmodesmatal conductance remain enigmatic. Genetic approaches to study plasmodesmata were hampered by lethality or redundancy. Novel technologies now set the stage for resolving roles of plasmodesmata in transport and signaling in an interdisciplinary approach. We will use proximity labeling proteomics to obtain plasmodesmatal composition, and PAINT and cryo-electron tomography (cryoET) for near atomic structures. Models of plasmodesmata will be built from bottom up and top down approaches and combined with quantitative assessment of plasmodesmatal activity. Novel biosensor approaches together with knock down by genome editing will permit quantitation of transport of the diverse cargo. Single cell sequencing helps fine-tuning mutant selection and targeting of subtypes. Four labs will join forces: highly recognized experts in biophysics and cryoET (WB), advanced imaging and developmental signaling (RS), high-end proteomics and lipidomics (WS), and interactomics, transporters and cutting-edge biosensor technology (WF).

We will iteratively address:

  1. systematic quantitative identification of components
  2. their localization and dynamics
  3. structures and molecular building blocks of diverse plasmodesmatal types
  4. transport and signaling mechanisms

We expect breakthrough discoveries and completely new understanding of plasmodesmatal function and evolution. Since plasmodesmata play key roles in nutrient allocation and virus spread, we lay the basis for novel biotech solutions in agriculture.


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