Because some genes have survived through time as multicellular life evolved, they have been conserved in both plants and animals, Szymanski said. So, some of the plant proteins that comprise the ARP2/3 and the WAVE complexes are interchangeable with proteins in animals. Others proteins are not interchangeable, and Szymanski's research team is delving into how this affects the growth process.
"DIS3 has two ends that are common in both plant and animal proteins," he said. "But DIS3 has a very large segment in the middle that is specific to plants. We'd like to know if this section is important and whether it regulates DIS3 or the whole WAVE complex."
For growth and development biochemical processes to proceed normally, activators such as ARP 2/3 are needed to trigger actin filaments' formation and growth, Szymanski said. However, scientists don't know the specific function of certain actin filaments. The molecular tools Szymanski's research team developed will help scientists learn more about these functions in both plants and animals.
The other researchers on this study were Dipanwita Basu and Salah El-Din El-Essal, research assistants; postdoctoral students Jie Le, Chunhua Zhang and Gregore Koliantz; Eileen Malley, laboratory manager, all of the Department of Agronomy; and Shanjin Huang, postdoctoral student, and Christopher Staiger, professor, both of the Department of Biological Sciences. Staiger and Szymanski also are members of the Purdue Motility Group.
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