Cellulose is a polymer of glucose monomers that can be produced by plants, many oomycetes, and some bacteria. Plant cellulose is used to make clothes, produce paper, and generate biofuels. In plants cellulose is synthesized by cellulose synthase protein complexes situated at the cell surface and it serves as a major cell wall component that controls plant cell shape and overall plant architecture. Cellulose synthase complexes require sophisticated regulatory mechanism to be delivered to the cell surface and perform their catalytic functions in cellulose biosynthesis. This project will use multidisciplinary approaches to examine specific aspects of this regulation. The project will contribute to outreach programs by hosting high school students in the laboratory and providing training to high school science teachers. This project will also involve numerous undergraduate students from diverse backgrounds, thus stimulating research interest in plant biology and promoting STEM education.

Although it is widely recognized that the subcellular transport of the cellulose synthase complex is essential for cellulose synthesis in plants, its unclear whether the catalytic activity of the cellulose synthase complex is related to its subcellular transport. This project aims at using chemical genetic methods and mutant analysis to discover how the catalytic activity of cellulose synthase complexes impacts their subcellular trafficking. Chemical inhibitor treatment combined with live-cell imaging will be performed to examine how catalytic activity affects different steps of cellulose synthase complex subcelluar trafficking. A series of cellulose synthase mutants that carry mutations at important amino acids for predicted catalytic activity will be analyzed for their growth phenotypes, cellulose content, and mutated protein trafficking dynamics. The research is expected to increase understanding of the relationship between cellulose synthase complex catalytic activity and subcellular trafficking.

This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Molecular and Cellular Biosciences (MCB)
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Steve Clouse
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Purdue University
West Lafayette
United States
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