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Molecular analysis of fatty acid export from plastids

Workscope: Research Associate

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1 Doctoral (PhD) student position (income level TVL E13, 50%)
LMU München, Department Biology I - Botany
, group Dr. Katrin Philippar
is available at the earliest possible date to study the
Molecular analysis of fatty acid export from plastids
Fatty acids (FAs) build the majority of cellular lipids, which are essential not only for membrane function, but also for growth and development of organisms. Since in plants FA synthesis occurs in plastids, transport to the ER for further lipid assembly is required. The mode of plastid FA-export, however, was an open question until only recently we described FAX1 (fatty acid export 1). FAX1 is a novel membrane protein in the plastid inner envelope and mediates FA-export (Li et al., 2015). In the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana FAX1 is crucial for biomass production, male fertility, and synthesis of FA-derived compounds such as lipids, ketone waxes or pollen cell walls. FAX1 belongs to a family of seven proteins: four are predicted to be in plastids, three most likely integrate into membranes of the secretory pathway. In vertebrates, FAX relatives are mitochondrial membrane 'TMEM14' proteins with unknown biological function. Thus, this protein family represents a powerful tool not only to increase lipid/biofuel production in the green lineage, but also to explore novel transport systems with impact on mitochondrial dynamics in vertebrates.
The project aims to characterise FAX proteins in Arabidopsis and the green microalgae Chlamy-domonas reinhardtii. Research should clarify their impact on cellular metabolism, in particular on FAs, lipids and FA/lipid-derived compounds as well as on carbon energy metabolites. A spotlight will be on synthesis of storage oils in seeds, i.e. the significance of FAX in oil synthesis. In Chlamydomonas, overproduction of FAX proteins in combination with en hanced expression of FA/lipid biosynthesis enzymes should lead to development of strategies for biofuel production. The structure/function correlation of FAX1 is completely novel. Thus, research will enable us to study plant-specific but also general aspects of a new intracellular FA-transport pathway. Evaluation of FAX topology, structure, and FA/lipid binding, functional characteristics as well as identification of interaction partners will help to describe the plastid FA-export pathway. Research covers techniques of modern Plant Molecular Biology and Physiology (mutant generation, ultrastructural analysis, transcriptomics, metabolomics, proteomics), Cell Biology (in vivo GFP-targeting, protein-protein interaction) as well as Biochemistry and Functional Analysis of Membrane Proteins (purification of protein complexes, functional assays).
To apply, please send your application in German or English language via email to:
Katrin Philippar (philippar@lmu.de)
Li, N., Gügel, I, Giavalisco, P., Zeisler, V., Schreiber, L., Soll, J., and Philippar, K. (2015). FAX1, a novel membrane protein mediating plastid fatty acid export. PLoS Biology 13(2): e1002053. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.1002053.
-     Roberts RG (2015) Flagging the Fatty Acid Ferryman. Synopsis on Li et al. (2015), doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.100205
-     TAIR feature: 1st Paper of the Month [March 18, 2015], https://www.arabidopsis.org: "This month we feature FAX1, a Novel Membrane Protein Mediating Plastid Fatty Acid Export, by Li, et.al."

Contact detail

How to apply:
To apply, please send your application in German or English language via email to:
Katrin Philippar (philippar@lmu.de)
Send application to
PD Dr. Katrin Philippar, DFG-Heisenberg group "Plastid fatty acid & iron transport"
Department Biology I - Botany
Biocenter LMU München
Großhadernerstr. 2-4,
D-82152 Planegg/Martinsried Germany
phone: +49(0)89 2180-74758, -74767,
fax: +49(0)89 2180-74752,
e-mail: philippar@lmu.de

Job profile

Working hours
Contract duration
Type of job
PhD Project
Work experience
job experience is not required
Germany (Bayern)
Working place
82152 Planegg - Martinsried / München
Area of expertise
Biology & Life Sciences, Agricultural Sciences