Characterizing the BIRD Protein Network Interactions and Phase Separation Abilities

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


In plants, growth and defense pathways are regulated by hormone cross-talk and a set of proteins responsible for the activation or repression of these pathways. Transcription factors JACKDAW (JKD), SHOORTROOT (SHR), and SCARECROW (SCR) form a complex to regulate the patterning of the roots. JASMONATE-ZIM domain (JAZ) proteins repress the Jasmonic Acid (JA) defense response through inhibiting transcription factor MYC2. TCP14, a member of the Teosinte branched1/Cycloidea/Proliferaitng cell factor1&2 (TCP) family of transcription factors, promotes Gibberellin (GA) growth pathway activation and is a repressor of the JA defense pathway. Previous data shows that JKD binds to JAZ3 and TCP14, and that JAZ3 and TCP14 may interact. Whether these interactions occur in vitro, and if other protein complexes also form, has not been confirmed yet. In this project, I aimed to study these protein interactions, as they may play a role in the growth-defense trade-offs affecting plant fitness. I used pull-down assays to confirm direct protein-protein binding, and utilized Alphafold to identify the interaction interfaces. I also developed an assay to assess liquid-liquid phase separation (LLPS) and found that TCP14 phase separates. These studies provide insight to how these proteins may regulate and connect growth and defense.
Date of AwardJul 2023
Original languageEnglish (US)
Awarding Institution
  • Biological, Environmental Sciences and Engineering
SupervisorStefan Arold (Supervisor)

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