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PhD. Topics

Plant Science and Biodiversity Centre SAS

Uncovering the molecular function of plant calpain DEK1
PhD. program
plant physiology
Name of the supervisor
Mgr. Viktor Demko, PhD.
Receiving school
Faculty of Natural Sciences of Comenius University
DEFECTIVE KERNEL 1 (DEK1) is a multi-domain membrane protein with calpain protease at the C-terminus. DEK1 plays essential roles throughout plant ontogenesis. DEK1 activity is necessary for correct execution of oriented cell divisions and cell fate specification. Current model of DEK1 action suggests sensory function of its transmembrane domain, regulatory role of the Linker segment and proteolytic activity of the calpain domain involved in controlled modification and destabilization of its cellular substrates. Despite its indispensable role for any organized growth, many aspects of DEK1 molecular function are still unknown. In particular, we still don’t know the direct cellular substrates of the DEK1 calpain protease, the structure and molecular mode of action of its large transmembrane domain and how is the activity of DEK1 precisely regulated at spatiotemporal level. In our lab, we use reverse genetics approach to investigate DEK1 function in model plant Physcomitrium patens. We aim to identify links between the DEK1 function and other important regulatory mechanism including epigenetic modification of RNA. Our long-term goal is to contribute to the DEK1 protein 3D structure determination.
The main goal of this doctoral thesis will be to identify and characterize direct DEK1 calpain interactors and substrates using genetics, cell biology and biochemistry approaches. Physcomitrium patens, Arabidopsis thaliana and Zea mays will be used as model plants.
Doctoral students are expected to spend research visits at collaborating specialized labs abroad.