Lillian Litvak Rose Hills
Bioengineering Plant NLR Immune Receptors: A Structural Approach
Our research aim is to provide greater insights into the functions of NLR immune receptors, which are part of the second tier of the plant immune system, based on our current knowledge of their protein structure and mechanism. As we work toward this goal, we will answer basic research questions about how these highly conserved immune receptors detect pathogens and signal an immune response. More specifically, what region of the receptor recognizes the pathogen effector? Does this region also play a role in switching the receptor to the activated state? What other structural aspects may contribute to the transition to the immune signaling active state? This research will further our mechanistic understanding of how NLR immune receptors recognize pathogens and undergo structural changes to trigger the immune response. Current literature is hopeful that engineering disease resistance in crops has great potential to reduce yield loss and chemical treatments involved in crop diseases; thus, this information is critical in understanding how to protect our crops from future pandemics and ensuring food security.