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Testing the Role of the Chaperone HSP101 in the Enhanced Thermotolerence of Plants Expressing Polyglutamine Proteins

Status Complete
Seeking Researchers No
Start Date 12/01/2012
End Date 07/01/2013
Funding Source Undergraduate Research Grant
Funding Amount
Community Partner
Related Course
Last Updated 01/30/2013 01:17PM
Keywords polyQ


  Ben Harrison

Student Researchers
  Janine Ray


Polyglutamine proteins, those containing tracts of consecutive glutamine amino acids, are known to cause Huntington's disease and several other neurodegenerative diseases in humans. Polyglutamine proteins tend to form aggregates in cells, which are cytotoxic in humans and other organisms. Proteins with long tracts of repeating glutamine are often misfolded and aggregate more readily than those with shorter stretches of glutamines.

Recently, students in Dr. Ben Harrison's lab at UAA studied polyglutamine proteins in the plant Arabidopsis thaliana. They found that polyglutamine proteins aggregate in plants as they do in other organisms. Surprisingly, the plants expressing aggregation-prone polyglutamine proteins were thermotolerant. Plants normally acquire thermotolerance in response to mild heat stress~ however, in polyglutamine-expressing plants, this mild stress was not required. Thermotolerance involves proteins called chaperones, which include the class of proteins called heat shock proteins (I ISPs). HSPs respond to misfolded proteins, like polyglutamine proteins or those denatured by heat. I suspect that the thermotolerance of polyglutamine-expressing plants involves the chaperone system.

To test this hypothesis, I will test the role that the major cellular chaperone, HSP I 01, may play in the thermotolerance ofpolyglutamine-expressing plants. HSPIOI, one type ofHSP in plants, is essential for thermotolerancc. I will use progeny from crosses between polyglutamine-expressing plants and plants lacking cytosolic HSP101 (cHSPlOI) to explore the role cHSP 101 plays in polyglutamine-induccd thermotolerance. I will compare thcrmotolerance of polyglutamine-expressing plants with the thermotolerance of polyglutamine-expressing plants lacking cHSP 101 by exposing the plants to heat stress, with and without mild heat pretreatment. Plants that survive the heat shock will be considered thermotolerant. I will analyze survivorship of each group of plants to determine if the data indicate that cHSP l 01 is necessary for polyglutamine-induced thermotolerance.

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