Collaborative Research: Role of Arabidopsis Ctd-Phosphatase-Like 1 In Gene Silencing Pathways
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Gene expression is achieved through transcription of DNA into RNA transcripts, known as messenger RNAs (mRNAs). Establishing the proper level of cellular transcripts is achieved by balancing the activity of production and degradation of mRNAs. Gene silencing is a process that regulates this balance both by repressing production (transcriptional gene silencing) and by promoting degradation (post-transcriptional gene silencing) of target transcripts. Some of the central components of the gene silencing machinery are small double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) and proteins that bind to cellular dsRNAs. The gene silencing machinery of plants has both universal components and components only found in the plant kingdom. Some of the unique components have been implicated not only in normal plant growth and development but also in resistance to stress. This project will determine the role of carboxyl-terminal domain (CTD) phosphatase-like 1, CPL1, a unique plant protein phosphatase in the gene silencing pathway. CPL1 is a repressor of multiple target genes. Preliminary data suggest that CPL1 can function both in transcriptional silencing and post-transcriptional silencing, however, the mechanism for this observation has not been elucidated. This study will use multiple approaches such as genetic, molecular, and biochemical analyses to dissect novel components of gene silencing in plants. The scientific discovery anticipated from this project will provide deeper insight of gene expression mechanisms relevant not only in the plant biology but also in broader biological science. This project will train post-doctoral associates and one graduate student. The collaborative nature of this project provides the participants multidisciplinary expertise in molecular genetics and biochemistry as well as teaching opportunities through the lab course described below. To train future scientists from diverse backgrounds, a graduate-level laboratory module for the course Physiological and Molecular Basis of Plant Stress Responses in which students will have hands-on experience, will be established. Teaching materials will be shared between collaborating institutions, and research materials generated in the project will be used in the classroom/lab as well.