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Molecular dissection of factors controlling flux through pathways (Regulation of flux)
Start date: 01 Apr 2009, End date: 31 Mar 2011 PROJECT  FINISHED 

Plants produce a spectacular number of bioactive natural products which are essential for plant disease resistance, plant growth and development, and which have great commercial potential for human use as e.g. biomedicines. Current engineering approaches by overexpression of biosynthetic genes often results in only low levels of the desired product. This most likely reflects the complexity of the regulatory networks controlling metabolic flux through biosynthetic pathways. An important prerequisite for fully exploiting the potential of metabolic engineering of natural products is to understand the underlying regulatory and homeostatic mechanisms at the molecular level. Glucosinolates are natural products of the model plant Arabidopsis. The availability of highly advanced bioinformatics and molecular tools combined with extensive mutant collections in Arabidopsis makes the glucosinolate pathway an excellent model system for studying regulation of metabolic flux. Recent advances in glucosinolate research have identified the first transcription factors and shown that flux through the pathway is controlled by not only regulatory proteins but also the last biosynthetic gene in the pathway. State-of-the-art techniques within integrative bioinformatics, protein-protein interaction, transactivation assays, differential transcript and metabolite profiling will be applied to identify novel interacting regulatory partners and to unravel the molecular mechanism by which the biosynthetic gene controls flux. The project will develop excellent scientific and leadership competences at a high level for a talented young European scientist to build an independent future career in science. The proposed project may provide future biotechnological solutions for engineering the production of natural products into plants to improve food quality and disease resistance, and to use plants as green factories producing high-value products like pharmaceuticals.
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