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Research Fellows Directory

Steven Spoel

Dr Steven Spoel

Research Fellow


University of Edinburgh

Research summary

In nature plants are exposed to different stresses often caused by biotic agents. In

response, plants mount defense reactions that are specific against the pathogen

encountered. Successful pathogen recognition triggers a programmed cell death (PCD)

response in the infected cells that isolates and kills the pathogen. In analogy to apoptosis

in animals, PCD in plants may be controlled by signaling processes involving nitric oxide

(NO) and thioredoxin-like proteins (TRXs). Moreover, these PCD-induced molecules may

regulate cellular redox changes that activate an enhanced state of resistance to

secondary pathogen attack in uninfected tissues known as systemic acquired resistance

(SAR). TRXs facilitate protein S-nitrosylation and de-nitrosylation, a process in which

protein thiols are modified by or liberated from NO moieties, respectively. Here, I

propose to investigate if extensive interplay between S-nitrosylation and TRX activity is

also a critical step in the control of PCD and SAR in plants. A powerful combination of

genetic and biochemical approaches will be used to advance our understanding of redox

regulation and plant innate immunity. More importantly, this proposal aims to answer a

more general question in basic sciences: how do NO and TRXs translate cellular redox

changes into protein signaling events and ultimately physiologically relevant responses?

Interests and expertise (Subject groups)

Grants awarded

Post-Translational Regulation of Transcription Dynamics in Plant Immunity

Scheme: University Research Fellowship

Dates: Oct 2015 - Sep 2018

Value: £296,253.37

Protein modification as a tool for reprogramming gene activity

Scheme: University Research Fellowship

Dates: Oct 2010 - Sep 2015

Value: £501,510.37

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