Recent Posts

Review: Structural biology of cell surface receptor–ligand interactions (COPB)

In recent months, a flurry of papers have come out that reveal new insights into the structural interactions of cell-surface receptors with each other and with their ligands. This timely review by Moussu and Santiago captures the highlights, in case you haven’t been following along. The review features…

Review: The evolution of betalain biosynthesis in Caryophyllales (New Phytol)

In the flowering plant order Caryophyllales (which includes beets), betalains substitute for anthocyanins, which are the most common form of pigmentation across the land plant phylogeny. Also found in the Basidiomycota fungal lineage, betalains are tyrosine-derived pigments that comprise of two groups…

Critical residues for carotenoid biosynthesis by phytoene synthase (Plant Phys)

Carotenoids are diverse structures that contribute to photosynthetic light harvesting and serve as pigments, photoprotectants, and precursors for vitamin A and signalling molecules. Phytoene synthase is the first committed enzyme for carotenoid synthesis, and in tomato it is encoded by two genes, PSY1…

RIN4/NOI fragments utilize different N-end rules of degradation to fight off pathogens (Plant Physiol)

To fight off invading pathogens, plants such as Arabidopsis are intrinsically programmed with a subset of defense responses often known as pattern-triggered immunity (PTI) and effector-triggered immunity (ETI). AvrRpt2, an effector secreted by the pathogen Pseudomonas syringe, is a protease that can…

Awaking the sleeping carboxylase ($) (JACS)

One of the things I like most about synthetic biology is the “why not” attitude. This article by Bernhardsgrütter et al. is intriguing because rather than taking the standard “let’s fix Rubisco approach,” the authors started with a non-CO2 fixing enzyme and engineered it towards having carboxylase…

A bacterium that demethylates opiate thebaine for a green chemistry solution ($) (Nature Sustainability)

Opium poppies produce opiates including morphine and thebaine. Derivatives of these compounds can also have diverse beneficial properties. One of these, naloxone, is a competitive opioid receptor antagonist that can be administered to counteract the effects of opioid overdose. Because of the rise in…

Methyl jasmonate-induced changes of flavor profiles during the processing of green, oolong, and black tea (Frontiers Plant Sci)

Tea quality depends on the product's taste and aroma, which are provided by phenolic and volatile compounds respectively.  Here, Shi et al. analyzed changes of volatile and amino acid (AA) profiles in fresh tea leaves (Camellia sinensis L.) and during the processing of three tea products (green, oolong…

Application of TurboID-mediated proximity labeling for mapping a GSK3 Kinase signaling network in Arabidopsis (bioRxiv)

In this preprint Kim et al., have provided an optimized method for determining protein-protein interaction in plants using TurboID-mediated labelling.  TurboID is an engineered promiscuous biotin ligase that marks proteins it comes in contact with. Identification of interacting partners of a protein…

HORT1 retrotransposon causes harlequin/black flowers in Phalaenopsis orchids (Plant Physiol)

Phalaenopsis orchids produce beautiful, long-lived flowers and are widely popular houseplants. In 1996, a new variety was identified with intensely dark, nearly black pigmentation. Hsu et al. have identified the molecular basis for this phenotype; a Gypsy-like retrotransposon inserted in the promoter…