$3.7 Million to Expand Yale Study of How Plant Proteins Function

Protein microarrays from the plant Arabidopsis help determine protein functions and interrelationships. (Credit: Dinesh-Kumar) The National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded $3.7 million to researchers in the Yale Center for Genomics and Proteomics (YCGP) for work that will triple the number of plant proteins whose biochemical functions can be studied in protein microarrays.
Protein microarrays from the plant Arabidopsis help determine protein functions and interrelationships. (Credit: Dinesh-Kumar)

The National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded $3.7 million to researchers in the Yale Center for Genomics and Proteomics (YCGP) for work that will triple the number of plant proteins whose biochemical functions can be studied in protein microarrays.

The YCGP, launched in 2002, promotes cutting-edge research in the area of genomics and proteomics. In early 2003, Associate Professor Savithramma Dinesh-Kumar and Center Director Michael Snyder, the Cullman Professor of Molecular, Cellular & Developmental Biology, began a large-scale project to characterize plant proteins using microarray technology. This study was funded first by a YCGP pilot grant and later by $2.7 million in grants from the NSF.

“It is expected that the increase in the world’s population in the next 50 years will create a greater demand for food, fiber, fuel and pharmaceuticals,” said Dinesh-Kumar. “With continued worldwide food and fuel shortages and decreased agricultural productivity, it is imperative to increase our knowledge of plant genes and genomes to develop improved crops and better products.”

The researchers chose to focus on Arabidopsis, a member of the mustard family, which is currently the most popular model plant for genomic analysis. “The available DNA sequence of Arabidopsis genome is a valuable tool for mining the unexplored information of the genome,” said Snyder. “These functional genomic and proteomics studies will help us to understand the interplay of genes and proteins that control plant growth, development, as well as their responses to the pathogens and different environmental stresses.”

Teaming with Mark Gerstein, professor of Biomedical Informatics, Snyder and Dinesh-Kumar optimized a microchip technology for studying the way proteins in this plant operate. With the initial NSF grants, they produced the first Arabidopsis protein microarrays containing 5000 proteins. The arrays were used successfully to identify targets of several proteins that play an important role in cell signaling.

Based on the Yale scientists’ success, the NSF is extending these studies for two years to add 10,000 more proteins into Arabidopsis protein microarrays.



Share this with Facebook Share this with X Share this with LinkedIn Share this with Email Print this

Media Contact

Janet Rettig Emanuel: janet.emanuel@yale.edu, 203-432-2157