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Identification of novel function for insect defense regulator in tomato.


Research in Professor Linda Walling’s lab of the Center for Plant Cell Biology at the University of California, Riverside aims to understand the mechanism of action of leucine aminopeptidase A (LAP-A), a novel regulator of a branch of the insect defense response pathway in tomato. Previously, LAP-A’s role in defense was presumed to be a function of its peptidase activity. However, NSF-ChemGen Interdisciplinary Graduate Research and Training fellow Melissa Scranton discovered a novel secondary role for LAP-A as a molecular chaperone, providing protection of proteins from stress-induced damage. Current studies are investigating whether LAP-A’s role in defense includes protecting susceptible plant proteins during insect feeding. During this project, undergraduate Ashley Yee was trained in biochemical techniques and contributed significantly to the understanding of LAP-A’s molecular chaperone activity. This study demonstrates that plant LAP proteins are more complex than previously known and gives further insight into the types of potential defenses utilized by plants in response to insects.

Address Goals

Discovering a secondary function of LAP-A as a protective molecular chaperone advances our knowledge of protein usage for multiple roles within a organism. Knowledge regarding plant protection may aid in production of natural pest control mechanisms.