Lipid Droplets /  Storage

N-Acylethanolamines (NAE)

MS Imaging / Analysis

Our lab is focused on the manipulation of seed reserves in cotton for improved composition and yields. Current efforts are aimed at reducing seed storage proteins and partitioning carbon to fiber and oil.  Approaches include the introduction of seed-value traits by both transgenic and non-transgenic means.  This work is supported by a grant from Cotton Incorporated. Recent publications on Google Scholar or PubMed.

Lipid droplets are subcellular sites for neutral lipid storage, and this general subcellular compartment is present in plants, animals and microorganisms.  Our lab is interested in the cellular machinery that facilitates the assembly, stability and dynamics of lipid droplets in plant cells.  Recent discoveries include plant homologues of human lipodystrophy genes that modulate lipid droplet ontogeny in plants, including CGI-58 (James et al., 2010, PNAS; Park et al., Plant Cell) and SEIPIN (Cai et al., 2015, Plant Cell).  Our ongoing studies are supported by the US Department of Energy, Basic Energy Sciences program and are part of a collaborative effort among three laboratories—the Chapman lab at UNT, the Mullen lab at the University of Guelph, and the Dyer lab at the USDA-ARS.  For a review of lipid droplet biogenesis in plant systems see Chapman et a., 2013, Journal of Lipid Research. Recent publications on Google Scholar or PubMed.

N-Acylethanolamines (NAEs) are fatty acid derivatives that are conjugated to ethanolamine.  In mammals the arachidonic acid conjugate, also known as anandamide is an endogenous ligand for G-protein-coupled cannabinoid receptors.  Our lab is interested in the synthesis, oxidation and turnover of NAEs in plant systems, especially as this pathway appears to influence seedling establishment.  Approaches include pharmacological and genetic manipulation of NAE metabolite levels in seeds and seedlings, and our goal is to understand the key features of this regulatory pathway in plants.  For a review of NAE signaling in plant systems see Blancaflor et al., 2014, Plant Journal. In collaboration with Professor Peter Koulen at the University of Missouri, Kansas City, we are exploring the roles of NAEs in neuronal protection. Recent publications on Google Scholar or PubMed.

Matrix Assisted Laser Desorption Ionization- Mass Spectrometry (MALDI-MS), especially with high resolution MS instruments has made it possible to localize lipids in tissue sections with high spatial and chemical resolution.  Our lab is focused on developing methodology to localize a variety of lipid metabolites in plant tissues, and using this information to understand the spatial heterogeneity of lipid metabolism.  For a review of this technology and its applications to plant metabolism, see Horn and Chapman, 2014, Progress in Lipid Research and Sturtevant et al., 2016, Current Topics in Biotechnology. Recent publications on Google Scholar or PubMed.

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