- Plant cell and molecular biology
Plants are subjected to a range of abiotic stresses and need to adjust their metabolic program accordingly for survival. The evolutionarily conserved target of rapamycin (TOR) plays a pivotal role in transducing beneficial input signals such as light, hormones and nutrients, towards growth promoting cellular processes. Reported upstream regulators and downstream effectors show that TOR supports plant growth through protein synthesis, but the exact molecular mechanism remains largely unknown. The TOR signalling network published by our research group confirmed the complex interplay with protein synthesis and additionally uncovered a plant-specific phosphorylation of the translation initiation complex eIF2B. The discovery of TOR-dependent phosphorylation of eIF2Bδ1 after sucrose starvation and readdition suggests that plants evolved a novel layer of translation regulation when undergoing nutritional stress. Therefore, this project will focus on elucidating the biological significance of eIF2Bδ1 phosphorylation by TOR and investigating the existence of a nutrient-TOR-eIF2B nexus for translation control. The results generated in this project, will contribute to precise genome engineering applications to generate nutrient efficient crops, leading to more sustainable agriculture.