Yangnan Gu, Professor

Closed (1) Engineering Nuclear Transport Receptor for Plant Resistance

Closed. This professor is continuing with Spring 2021 apprentices on this project; no new apprentices needed for Fall 2021.

Plant's responses to external stimuli are highly dependent on the shuttling of intracellular signals to the nucleus, where the genome is reprogrammed to drive transcriptome changes to combat stress. A fundamentally important aspect of this process is the nuclear transport of stress-related signaling cargos mediated by nuclear transport receptors (NTRs). The selective and directional transport of signaling cargo by functionally specialized NTRs in plants (e.g., 27 in rice) plays a pivotal role in determining specific outcomes of stress responses to heat, drought, oxidative stress, UV irradiation, and various pathogens. We propose to engineer broad-spectrum plant resistance against emerging environmental challenges, such as the expanding range of pathogen-hosts due to climate changes, by systematically editing plant NTR genes using CRISPR technology. This project involves genome editing on Arabidopsis NTR genes, including their gene body and cis-regulatory elements, to generate thousands of mutation combinations among different NTRs to create novel resistance features. The genome editing involves rational design and synthesis of customized CRISPR guide RNA (gRNA) libraries with multiplexing capacity, which will be transformed into plants for large-scale resistance screens. After obtaining desired lines, transgenes can be eliminated in the following generations.

This project provides an excellent opportunity for a student to become proficient with a variety of techniques fundamental to plant genetics and molecular and cellular biological research. The student will work with other scientists to study the plant immune system regulated by nuclear transport receptors (NTRs). The student will interact with the lab’s principal investigator, Yangnan Gu and work with another researcher to get deeply involved in generation of transgenic plants mutated in different NTRs to test their roles in pathogen defense. The student will learn recombinant DNA techniques such as cloning, E. coli transformation, and plant DNA/RNA extraction and use fluorescent microscope to observe in vivo dynamics of proteins in a living cell. The student will also have the opportunity to participate in lab meeting discussions and departmental seminars.

Day-to-day supervisor for this project: Keni Jiang, Staff Researcher

Qualifications: The student should have a strong desire to learn basic research and is willing to invest a significant amount of time in the lab to pursue the research project. A solid understanding of molecular biology concepts and some prior experience with molecular biology techniques are preferred. The student must be responsible, conscientious, attentive to detail and able to relate the details of her/his work to the larger objectives of the project.

Weekly Hours: 12 or more hours

Related website: https://plantandmicrobiology.berkeley.edu/users/yangnan-gu

Open (2) Exploring the function of a novel plant nuclear membrane protein

Open. Apprentices needed for the fall semester. Enter your application on the web beginning August 18th. The deadline to apply is Monday, August 30th at 9 AM.

The nuclear envelope (NE) is structurally and functionally vital for eukaryotic cells, yet its protein constituents and their functions are poorly understood in plants. We combined subtractive proteomics and the proximity labeling technology-coupled with quantitative mass spectrometry to understand the landscape of NE membrane proteins in Arabidopsis and identified over 200 potential candidates for plant nuclear envelope transmembrane (PNET) proteins. One of the candidates, named PNET1, is a homolog of human TMEM209, a critical driver for lung cancer. Functional investigation revealed that PNET1 is a bona fide nucleoporin in plants. It displays both physical and genetic interactions with the nuclear pore complex (NPC) and plays an essential role in embryo development and reproduction in different NPC contexts. However, the molecular and cellular function and the signaling pathway that PNET1 is involved are still not clear.

The student will interact with the lab’s principal investigator, Yangnan Gu and work with another researcher to use fluorescent microscopy to observe the protein dynamics of PNET1 and other PNET1-related molecules, as well as the nuclear envelope structure of plant cells with mutations in the PNET1 gene. The student will also learn plant genetics and various modern molecular biological techniques in the lab. The student will have the opportunity to participate in lab meeting discussions and departmental seminars.

Day-to-day supervisor for this project: Min Jia, Post-Doc

Qualifications: This project provides an excellent opportunity for a student to become proficient with a variety of techniques fundamental to plant genetics and molecular and cellular biological research. The student will work with other scientists to explore one of the novel plant nuclear envelope protein that we recently discovered. The student should have a strong desire to learn basic research and is willing to invest a significant amount of time in the lab to pursue the research project. A solid understanding of molecular biology concepts and some prior experience with molecular biology techniques are preferred. The student must be responsible, conscientious, attentive to detail and able to relate the details of her/his work to the larger objectives of the project.

Weekly Hours: 12 or more hours

Related website: https://plantandmicrobiology.berkeley.edu/users/yangnan-gu