The nuclear envelope (NE) isolates and organizes the genome. It selectively accumulates proteins that carry out vital cellular functions and represents the hallmark of eukaryotic cells. Despite the increased appreciation of the NE as a crucial structural and signaling platform, knowledge on the composition and function of NE proteins is limited, particularly in plants, which significantly limits our understanding of plant NE function and its critical influence on various aspects of plant physiology and cell biology. This project aims to assemble the inventory of NE membrane proteins in the model organism Arabidopsis as a critical step towards a comprehensive understanding of the plant NE constituents and functions. In addition, this project will investigate molecular mechanisms that regulate the NE protein homeostasis through specialized proteolytic system. This research will generate valuable NE-associated protein databases and innovative protein identification tools for the plant and NE biology research community and deeply engage STEM and URM undergraduates in cutting-edge training in genetics, proteomics, cell biology, and molecular biology.

Recent studies discovered a range of novel plant NE components and their significance in diverse biological processes, providing new insights into conserved eukaryotic NE functions as well as NE-associated mechanisms unique to plants. This project will deploy the newly developed proximity labeling technology coupled with label-free quantitative mass spectrometry to make rapid advances in establishing a precise and comprehensive view of the protein landscape in the plant NE. Using a combined genetic, proteomic, and cell biological approach, this project will also define key regulatory components of a newly identified inner nuclear membrane-associated protein degradation pathway that is critical in maintaining the NE function, adding a new branch to the organelle-specific membrane-associated proteolytic system in higher eukaryotes. This research promises to significantly advance our understanding of fundamental biological principles underlying the nuclear membrane and nuclear function.

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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Charles Cunningham
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University of California Berkeley
United States
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