Joint Calls

Elucidating the multifaceted functions of protein acetyltransferases in plant stress response and regulation of metabolism.

  • Acronym KatNat
  • Duration 36
  • Project leader Professor Dr. Iris Finkemeier, University of Muenster, funded by DFG
  • Other project participants Dr. Carmela Giglione, CNRS/CEA/University Paris Sud, funded by ANR
    Dr. Markus Wirtz, University of Heidelberg, funded by DFG
    Dr. Daniel Gibbs, University of Birmingham, self-financed
    Dr. Paula Mulo, Unicersity of Turku, self-financed

  • Funding
  • Total Granted budget


Plants must constantly respond to a wide range of signals, including stresses, in order to coordinate their development and survival within a dynamic environment. One way in which this is achieved is through chemical modifications of proteins, allowing flexible and rapid changes of the proteome to alter cellular and physiological outputs. Protein acetylation is one such modification, which occurs on the N-termini (Nt) and internal lysines (K) of many proteins. Despite its prevalence, and in contrast to other well-studied modifications (e.g., phosphorylation), our knowledge of: (i) the regulation, specificity and plasticity of protein acetylation, and (ii) its downstream functional consequences on protein activity and physiology are severely lacking. It is therefore extremely timely to elucidate the multifaceted functions of protein acetylation and open up this new area of plant molecular biology, in which Europe has the capacity to take a world lead through strategic ERA-CAPS funding. The overarching aim of the KatNat project is to provide a mechanistic understanding of protein acetylation in plants, with a particular focus on investigating the enzymes that catalyze this modification (Nt- and K-acetyltransferases) and the resultant effects on proteostasis, photosynthesis, and metabolism. Crucially, this work will be carried out within the context of agronomically relevant stresses. KatNat consists of four interrelated objectives that will answer broad questions: (1) How does abiotic stress regulate the global Nt- and K-acetylome?; (2) What are the specificities, targets and stress-responsive dynamics of the acetyltransferases?; (3) How does protein acetylation impact protein stability and turnover?; (4) How does protein acetylation in plastids regulate photosynthesis and metabolism? By answering these connected questions, KatNat will not only shift the forefront of the field but will provide regulatory mechanisms and fundamental insight into how plants sense and respond to environmental changes. Last but not least, the obtained information will identify key new targets for the future development of superior crops. The KatNat consortium brings together five European groups, who all have a significant, demonstrable interest in the study of protein acetylation, and who have the highly complementary expertise in mass spectrometry, protein biochemistry and molecular plant biology required to carry out this original research at the highest international level. Consortium members already have a world lead in this field, and several members currently collaborate informally. The synergistic value of our collaboration will be the development and exploitation of an understudied area of in plant science, with key importance to agriculture. The proposed research is highly innovative, aligns closely with ERA-CAPS priority themes and has measurable and impactful outcomes that will shed light onto this emerging, exciting and important new area of plant biology

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