13 ERA-CAPS The role of the N-end rule pathway in controlling plant response to the environment

Lead Research Organisation: University of Nottingham
Department Name: Sch of Biosciences


Manipulation of plants to provide stability of yield under unpredictable growth conditions will be
essential to respond to the effect of climate change in increasing the uncertainty of the agricultural
environment. Selective and conditional removal of regulator proteins by proteolysis is emerging as a
major regulatory principle in plants. The aim of the N-vironment project is to provide a complete
mechanistic understanding of the role of the N-end rule pathway of targeted proteolysis in
controlling plant responses to the environment. To achieve this goal consortium partners have been
selected that represent internationally leading European teams with experience in the pathways
multiple facets, including the biochemical basis of the pathway, hypoxia and plant development,
transcriptional regulation of stress and metabolic signalling. The project will bring together six
research groups with complementary expertise in fundamental molecular plant science,
biochemistry and chemistry, in four institutions. The research programme of the N-vironment
consortium will be achieved through six inter-related Work Packages carried out by the four
consortium partners (three funded by ERA-CAPS, one associated laboratory). The objectives of these
work packages are related to three fundamental questions that arose after integration of the recent
discoveries by consortium members of the role of the N-end rule pathway of targeted proteolysis as a
major regulator of plant development and response to the environment. Question 1: What are the
protein substrates and enzymatic components of the N-end rule pathway? Question 2: How is the Nend
rule pathway integrated into cellular signaling pathways? Question 3: What is the extent of the
role of the N-end rule pathway in plant response to the biotic and abiotic environment? The proposed
research has highly innovative measurable outcomes that address this newly discovered area of plant
biology, and will uncover: New mechanisms regulating protein stability, new mechanisms of
environmental stress sensing, new functions for proteins in stress sensing, the importance of the
N-end rule in a key EU crop, tomato. This fast-developing area of plant molecular science is led by
N-vironment members (including discovery of substrates, methods of entry into the N-end rule
pathway, biochemical components of the pathway), and together with the availability of a large
number of unique resources within the consortium, makes the N-vironment proposal highly novel and
timely. The synergistic value of this collaborative programme will be the development and
exploitation of a highly novel area of plant biology of key importance to agriculture, in which Europe
has the capacity to take a world lead through ERA-CAPS funding.

Technical Summary

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Planned Impact

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Description New understanding of plant molecular responses to abiotic and biotic stresses. Please see the press release:

Exploitation Route Use by plant breeders to develop crops with enhanced stability of yields against climate change
Sectors Agriculture

Food and Drink