*The difference between international and UK fee rate will be covered by the University of Edinburgh for successful candidates*
Supervisors: Gary Loake, Institute of Molecular Plant Sciences, School of Biological Sciences, University of Edinburgh ([Email Address Removed]) and Huixia Shou, College of Life Sciences, Zhejiang University ([Email Address Removed])
An MSc degree is not a requirement.
The small, redox active molecule, nitric oxide (NO), is a key orchestrator of cellular signalling systems throughout eukaryotes. In plants, NO is central to the control of immunity, responses to the environment and multiple developmental programmes. A major route for the transfer of NO bioactivity is S-nitrosylation, the addition of an NO moiety to a reactive cysteine (Cys) thiol, embedded in a target protein, to form an S-nitrosothiol (SNO). This, prototypic, redox-based, post-translational modification (PTM), is conceptually similar to more established PTMs such as phosphorylation, although far less understood. In this context, S-nitrosylation can modulate protein function, for example, by regulating enzyme activity, protein localization, protein-protein interactions, protein degradation and protein-DNA binding.
Until recently, S-nitrosylation was thought to be driven largely by NO chemistry. However, now excitingly a series of enzymes are emerging, termed nitrosylases, that can add NO to specific Cys residues in target proteins, together with, de-nitrosylases, which can specifically remove these NO adducts. Thus, these enzymes are conceptually similar to kinases and phosphatases, that operate in phosphorylation and de-phosphorylation, respectively. How these enzymes exert their control over plant biology remains to be established. In addition, S-nitrosoglutathione reductase (GSNOR), constitutes an additional mechanism to control global S-nitrosylation, with loss-of-function mutations in this gene disrupting plant immunity and key aspects of development, underscoring the importance of S-nitrosylation in plant biology.
To date, these findings have been largely determined in Arabidopsis, a model dicot plant species. In this project, we will explore S-nitrosylation in the monocot crop species, rice and barley, with a view to developing novel strategies to establish crops with enhanced disease resistance and / or increased protection against environmental stress, utilising gene editing strategies to reprogramme identified target genes.
Gary Loake https://loake.bio.ed.ac.uk/
Huixia Shou https://person.zju.edu.cn/en/huixia
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