Proteomic approaches and live cell imaging reveal unique aspects of delivery of cellulose synthase complexes to the plasma membrane

Project: Research project

Project Details


An understanding of how plant cells make cellulose will not only provide scientific foundations for using genetic tools to coax plants into making modified cell walls for significant advances in sustainable energy, but also provide valuable insights for important and basic scientific questions of how a plant cell determines cell expansion and the final shape of the cell. This project will also provide research opportunities to undergraduate students, especially women and underrepresented minorities. Individual research projects will be tailored to various undergraduate research programs to attract talented women and underrepresented students and to enhance their preparation for graduate school and academic careers. This project will also include participation in an outreach event to local high school girls and their teachers in the form of a hands-on research workshop at Pennsylvania State University.

Cellulose microfibrils are synthesized at the plasma membrane by a large protein complex called cellulose synthase complex (CSC). The CSC uptakes sugar monomers and assembles a linear polymer, crystalline cellulose microfibrils, which are the most abundant biopolymer on earth. Because cellulose synthesis occurs at the plasma membrane, understanding the mechanisms by which cellulose synthase is trafficked to the cell surface becomes very important. A robust combination of live cell imaging, functional genetics, and proteomics approaches will be used to study how plant cells use exocytosis to deliver CSC to the cell surface. Specifically, the following three objectives will be addressed: 1) Determine the role of plant-specific protein PATROL1 and the conserved exocyst complex in cellulose biosynthesis. 2) Determine how CSCs are associated with PATROL1 and the exocyst complex. 3) Define the role of PATROL1 in CSC secretion through functional characterization of its partners. Together, these experiments will provide unprecedented insights into the evolution of trafficking machinery of eukaryotic cells. The project will be a vehicle for training undergraduate students, high school students and teachers, especially women and underrepresented minorities, in the context of experimental scientific enquiry.

This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

Effective start/end date2/1/201/31/25


  • National Science Foundation: $956,288.00


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