Dr. Marcela Rojas-Pierce - Associate
Cell Biology, vesicle trafficking, vacuole biogenesis
The vacuole is the major storage compartment in plant cells and has important implications for the nutritional value of agricultural crops. Our research is focused on identifying the molecular mechanisms that regulate the biogenesis of the vacuole and the delivery of tonoplast proteins to the vacuolar membrane. We use chemical and classical genetic approaches to characterize these mechanisms in the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana.
Plant vacuoles have additional functions in growth and development. Dynamics of vacuole fusion may also be important for critical physiological functions such as the regulation of stomata closing during water deficit and gravitropism. Our lab is starting to elucidate molecular mechanisms of vacuole dynamics that may contribute to responses of plants to these environmental cues.
Zheng J., Han S.W., Rodriguez-Welsh M.F. and Rojas-Pierce M. 2014. Homotypic vacuole fusion requires VTI11 and is regulated by phosphoinositides. Molecular Plant. In press. MPLANT-2014-024018
Rojas-Pierce M. 2013. Trafficking of Tonoplast Proteins to the Vacuole. Plant Science. 211: 132-136.Dieck CB, Woods A, Brglez I, Rojas-Pierce M and Boss WF. 2012. Increasing phosphatidylinositol (4,5) bisphosphate biosynthesis affects plant nuclear lipids and nuclear functions. Plant Physiology and Biochemistry. 57: 32–44
Rivera-Serrano E, Rodriguez-Welsh MF, Hicks G and Rojas-Pierce M. (2012) A Small Molecule Inhibitor Partitions Two Distinct Pathways for Trafficking of Tonoplast Intrinsic Proteins in Arabidopsis. PLoS ONE. 7(9): e44735. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0044735.
Zou Y, Rojas-Pierce M, Raikhel NV and Michael Pirrung. 2008. Preparation of Methyl Ester Precursors of Biologically Active Agents. Biotechniques. 44: 377-384
Rojas-Pierce M, Titapiwatanakun B, Sohn EJ, Fang F, Larive CK, Blakeslee J, Cutler S, Peer WA, Murphy AS and Raikhel NV. 2007. Arabidopsis P-Glycoprotein19 Participates in the Inhibition of Gravitropism by Gravacin. Chemistry & Biology. 14: 1366-1376.
Sohn EJ, Rojas-Pierce M, Pan S, Carter M, Serrano-Mislata A, Madueño F, Rojo E, Surpin M and Raikhel NV. (2007) The shoot meristem identity gene TFL1 is involved in flower development and trafficking to the protein storage vacuole. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 104: 18801-18806
Surpin, M, Rojas-Pierce, M, Carter, C, Vasquez, J, Hicks, GR and Natasha V Raikhel (2005) The Power of Chemical Genomics to Study the Link between Endomembrane System Components and the Gravitropic Response. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 102(13):4902-7