Investigation of the molecular mechanism of terpene secretion by plant specific ABC transporters

Project Details


Plants are chemical factories. They produce specialized metabolites including aromas, flavors and bioactive compounds making them of interest to the various industries. These metabolites play an important role in protection, competition and interaction with their environment. When specialized metabolites accumulate in high amounts, they can be toxic for the plant cells. One way to avoid self- toxicity, is by excreting these metabolites into extracellular spaces located in tiny hairs covering plants (trichomes). This requires the metabolite to move from the site of biosynthesis across the plasma membrane and the cell wall into the extracellular cavities. ABCG transporters have been identified to facilitate this translocation but the exact molecular mechanism in plants remains unknown.

About 60% of all known natural products are terpenoids. They contribute to the scent of eucalyptus, the flavor of cinnamon or the color of tomatoes. To understand how terpenoids are translocated, I will characterize the molecular architecture of the plant specific protein from ABC transporter family, Pleotropic Drug Resistance (PDR), using single-particle cryo-electron microscopy. PDR1 from tobacco plant (lat Nicotiana tabacum) is the archetype of the family that has already been well characterized. By determining the atomic resolution structure of different functional states, I will be able to provide a detailed understanding of terpenes translocation.
Effective start/end date1/10/1930/09/23

Flemish discipline codes in use since 2023

  • Molecular and cell biology not elsewhere classified


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