In vivo analysis of an activated plant NLR receptor complex

Supervision and funding: The project will be supervised by Jane Parker at the Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research. The project will be funded independent from the IMPRS.

Abstract: In animals and plants, intracellular immune receptors (called NLRs) confer specific recognition of pathogen molecules or their disturbance of host cells, to trigger disease resistance. NLR-activated resistance leads to transcriptional reprogramming of host cells and, often, localized cell death, which block pathogen invasion. The Parker group uses Arabidopsis and tobacco (N. benthamiana) as model host systems to determine how NLR receptor activation turns on anti-microbial defence and cell death pathways and to characterize the in vivo processes and components involved. The Chai group is working to reconstitute NLR and immunity signalling complexes in vitro and resolve their protein structures and biochemical modes of action. The aim of this PhD project is to use existing NLR protein structural and biochemical information to explore the nature and interactions of an activated NLR complex in vivo. The student will employ genetics, molecular biology and plant immunity/cell death-reporter assays, as well as protein structure-based and purification/analytical approaches to characterize wild-type (functional) and variant (non-functional) NLR complexes. The information gained will provide important clues to how NLR receptors assemble in their signalling-active states, and whether they recruit key immunity signalling components directly or indirectly to induce an immune response.

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