Towards improved plant growth through the TOR signaling pathway

The Target of Rapamycin (TOR) kinase has been identified as the key coordinator of transcription and translation for metabolic reprogramming upon the perception of nutrient and energy signals across eukaryotes. Genetic research in plants indeed shows that overexpression of TOR and other components of the TOR signaling pathway increases growth whereas suppression of the TOR pathway using mutants, RNAi or chemical inhibition results in developmental defects. Nevertheless, many question marks remain in the molecular mechanisms by which nutritional cues are conveyed towards growth promotion in plants. To gain insight in both up- and downstream components of the plant TOR pathway, our research group mapped a comprehensive TOR signaling network, integrating both interactomics and phosphoproteomics. Besides conserved components, novel interactions and candidate TOR substrates linked to a range of biological processes could be identified. For example, we found a plant-specific association between the TOR complex and the eukaryotic initiation factor 2 and 2B (eIF2 and eIF2B). TOR-dependent phosphorylation of the eIF2Bδ1 subunit could pointing to alternative regulatory mechanisms to fine-tune the rate-limiting step in protein synthesis. Furthermore, we will extend the TOR signaling network towards nitrogen sensing and metabolism, with the aim to improve plant growth under limiting nitrogen conditions, thereby contributing to a more sustainable agriculture.

Authors

Astrid Gadeyne(1,2)
Jelle Van Leene(1,2)
Dominique Eeckhout(1,2)
Nancy De Winne(1,2)
Eveline Van De Slijke(1,2)
Geert Persiau(1,2)
Geert De Jaeger(1,2)

Organisations

Ghent University Department of Plant Biotechnology and Bioinformatics (1)
VIB Center for Plant Systems Biology (2)

Presenting author

Astrid Gadeyne, FWO postdoctoral researcher, VIB-UGent Center for Plant Systems Biology
astrid.gadeyne@ugent.vib.be
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