08 Oct 2019 · Actualia (engl.) · Conference Gleanings

Plant Proteostasis Experts Met in Freiburg

Scientists from 16 countries met in Freiburg to discuss latest advances in proteostasis research. Photo: Marco Trujillo

How do plants react to stresses such as an infection, or heat and drought with which they are more often confronted due to global environmental changes? Plants can lower stress by degrading proteins and creating other proteins that are better adapted for the new environment. The steady state between degradation and biosynthesis of protein homeostasis or proteostasis in brief was in the focus of the more than 100 plant scientists who came together in Freiburg for the International Conference on Plant Proteostasis. Co-organisator Dr. Marco Trujillo (Freiburg) reports about key notes and prizes for best conference posters.

Protein homeostasis or Proteostasis, integrates cellular pathways that mediate the biogenesis, folding, trafficking and degradation, to maintain the needed concentrations of all proteins that compose the proteome. The plant proteostasis community encompasses scientists working on diverse aspects of plant proteostasis including: protein translation, protein quality control, proteases, posttranslational modification with ubiquitin and ubiquitin-like proteins, vesicular traffic, autophagy as well as proteasomal and vacuolar degradation.

How do plants, or any other organism, maintain and/or change the concentrations of proteins that compose the proteome in response to stresses? Or, how do cells maintain the correct stoichiometry of proteins needed within a complex? Are some of the questions that this young and vibrant community is trying to find answers for.

Although, smaller meetings have taken place before, the International Conference on Plant Proteostasis, which took place in Freiburg on the 10-13 of September, brought together around 100 scientists of countries from around the world including many European countries, as well as from afar such as China, Canada, U.S.A., Taiwan and Hong Kong. The concept of the meeting is to maintain a minimal registration fee to also support the participation of early career researchers, which was also made possible through the support of the German Society for Plant Sciences (DBG).

The conference offered opportunities to meet with peers from the field, exchange results and ideas, as well as to start new collaborations, in a friendly environment. Moreover, representatives of various companies were present, as there is an increasing interest in pathways mediating proteostasis, especially in light of ever-growing extreme weather patterns, due to global climate change.

New and exciting directions in the Plant Proteostasis

Roberto Solano (CNB-CSIC, Spain) showed how he used liverwort Marchantia polymorpha to gain insight in the Jasmonic acid (JA) signalling pathways and discovered a new JA biosynthetic pathway, which he reported in his EMBO keynote lecture. Beatriz Orosa, a young postdoc at the Institute of Molecular Plant Sciences (University of Edinburgh, UK), reported on the diverse types of ubiquitin chain linkages, and how they orchestrate the immune response. The differently linked ubiquitin chains represent distinct types of signals that are decoded by receptor proteins. Richard (Rick) Vierstra, who has pioneered the field in plants, discovered that putative ubiquitin-interacting motives are actually a new class of autophagy adaptors/receptors, and thus act on a very different pathway. Also, novel evidence indicates a role for autophagy in the Brassicaceae self-incompatibility pathway, as presented by Daphne Goring (University of Toronto, Canada).

Poster prizes went to Germany, Taiwan and Italy

One of the aims of the meeting was to support young scientists whose work was recognised through the award of poster prices. Elena Moreno-Castillo from the Leibniz Institute of Plant Biochemistry (Halle, Germany) received the price for the best poster for her exciting work on “Perception of Brassinosteroid Analogues by BRI1-SERK, Insights from Molecular Docking and Molecular Dynamic Simulations”. The second place was awarded to Ram Nivas Ahirwar from the academia Academia Sinica (Taiwan), who presented his excellent work on “Arabidopsis deubiquitinase OTU5 is involved in flowering by regulation of major repressors FLC/MAF4/MAF5”. Also Beatrice Giuntoli from the University of Pisa (Italy) received the third place prize for her outstanding studies in “Conserved enzyme-mediated oxidation of N-terminal cysteines in the eukaryotic Arg/Cys N-degron pathway”. In total there were approximately 40 poster presented and the poster sessions were always bustling with participants exchanging their work.

The expert’s meeting will continue

The success of the conference was not only characterized by vivid scientific exchange and the creation of new collaborations and projects, but was also reflected by the eagerness to continue the meeting in order to provide a venue for the plant proteostasis community.  The next International Conference on Plant Proteostasis will be hosted by Vicente Rubio at the National Centre of Biotechnology in Madrid (Spain) and will take place in the beginning of October 2020.

In October, Dr. Marco Trujillo, University of Freiburg