Sub-Cellular Transport

Plant growth and the yield of plant products (proteins, metabolites) requires the ordered activity of enzymes within and between cells of a tissue.

Sub-cellular transport and signaling in plants

Part of this order is through regulated specific subcellular location of the different enzymatic steps in a biosynthesis pathway. For instance, the different steps of a biosynthesis in plants may be distributed over the plastidal, cytosolic, ER, golgi or mitochondrial subcellular compartments. Also signaling events are ordered within the subcellular space: for instance, for the plant hormone auxin different signaling steps take place in the cytosol, at the plasmamembrane, or in the nucleus.

In our study of the spatial distributions of steps in secondary metabolite and secreted protein synthesis we focus on the mode and role of precursor-transport between different subcellular target compartments and the extracellular space. Precursor transport may be by specific carrier proteins, (membrane) transporters or, alternatively, through specific vesicle transport. Our knowledge on subcellular transport mechanisms can be used for the production of pharmaceuticals (medicinal secondary metabolites or vaccines) in plants.

In our study of subcellular hormone signaling we focus on the signaling related to shoot branching. We distinguish between the action of signaling molecules within the cytosol and within the nucleus. Our knowledge is applied by breeders to control plant compactness in greenhouses.