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Stephan Wenkel

Stephan Wenkel

Associate Professor

In my research group, we are interested in how plants adjust their development to environmental signals. Currently we work on two main topics:

1/ Regulation of protein activity by microProteins
Many proteins achieve their function by acting as part of multi-protein complexes. The formation of these complexes is highly regulated and mediated through domains of protein-protein interaction. Disruption of a complex or of the ability of the proteins to form homodimers, heterodimers or multimers can have severe consequences for cellular function. In this context, the formation of dimers and multimers can be perturbed by proteins we refer to as 'microProteins'. These disruptive protein species contain the protein-interaction domains of bona fide interaction partners, but lack the functional domains required for the activation of, for example, transcription or DNA binding. MicroProteins thus behave as post-translational regulators by forming homotypic dimers with their targets, and act through the dominant-negative suppression of protein complex function. We study microProtein function in model in crop plants.

2/ Environmental control of morphogenesis in plants
Plants are sessile organisms and have thus to cope with the environment they are exposed to. In order to optimize reproductive success, plants have evolved refined mechanisms to respond to environmental cues by adjusting developmental processes. Small changes in the red to far-red light ratio, for example, can be detected by the plant phytochrome system and translated into growth responses. My laboratory is interested in understanding how the environment influences the basic patterning machinery and how basic patterning modules are used to steer developmental processes required for adaptive growth responses.

Publications – Stephan Wenkel

Xie Y, Straub D, Eguen T, Brandt R, Stahl M, Martínez-García JF and Wenkel S. Meta-analysis of Arabidopsis KANADI1 direct target genes identifies basic growth-promoting module acting upstream of hormonal signaling pathways. Plant Physiology 169(2):1240-53, 2015.  

Eguen T, Straub D, Graeff M, Wenkel S. MicroProteins: small size - big impact. Trends in Plant Science 20(8):477-82, 2015.

Xie Y, Huhn K, Brandt R, Potschin M, Bieker S, Straub D, Doll J, Drechsler T, Zentgraf U, Wenkel S. REVOLUTA and WRKY53 connect early and late leaf development in Arabidopsis. Development 141(24):4772-83, 2014. 

Brandt R, Cabedo M, Xie Y and Wenkel S. Homeodomain leucine-zipper proteins and their role in synchronizing growth and development with the environment. Journal of Integrative Plant Biology 56(6):518-26, 2014. 

Merelo P, Xie Y, Brandt L, Ott F, Weigel D, Bowman JL, Heisler MG, Wenkel S. Genome-wide identification of KANADI1 target genes. PLoS one 8(10): e77341. doi:10.1371/ journal.pone.0077341, 2013. 

Brandt R, Musielak T, Graeff M, Stierhof YD, Huang H, Liu CM and Wenkel S. Control of stem cell homeostasis via interlocking microRNA and microProtein feedback loops. Mechanisms of Development 130 (1), 25-33, 2013. 

Gendron JM, Liu JS, Fan M, Bai MY, Wenkel S, Springer PS, Barton MK, Wang ZY. Brassinosteroids regulate organ boundary formation in the shoot apical meristem of Arabidopsis. PNAS 109(51): 21152-7, 2012. 

Brandt R, Sella-Martret M, Bou-Torrent J, Musielak T, Stahl M, Lanz C, Ott F, Schmid M, Greb T, Schwarz M, Barton MK, Reinhart BJ, Liu T, Choi SB, Quint M, Palaqui JC, Martinez-Garcia JF and Wenkel S. Genome-wide binding site analysis of REVOLUTA reveals a link between leaf patterning and light-mediated growth responses. The Plant Journal 72 (1): 31-42, 2012. 

Sella-Martret M, Bou-Torrent J, Brandt R, Palauqui JC, Martinez-Garcia JF and Wenkel S. ATHB4 and HAT3, two class II HD-ZIP transcription factors, control leaf development in Arabidopsis. Plant Signaling & Behavior 7 (11), 2012. 

Graeff M and Wenkel S. Regulation of protein function by interfering protein species. BioMolecular Concepts 3: 71-78, 2012. 

Staudt A and Wenkel S. Regulation of protein activity by ‘microProteins”. EMBO Reports 12(1):35-42, 2011. 

Jang S, Marchal V,Panigrahi K, Valverde V, Wenkel S and Coupland G. Arabidopsis COP1 shapes the temporal pattern of CO accumulation conferring a photoperiodic flowering response. EMBO Journal 27(8):1277-88, 2008. 

Wenkel S, Emery J, Hu BH, Evans MMS and Barton MK. A Feedback Regulatory Module Formed by LITTLE ZIPPER and HDZIPIII Genes. The Plant Cell 19(11):3379-90, 2007. 

Wenkel S, Turck F, Le Gourrierec J, Samach A, Coupland G. CONSTANS and the CCAAT box binding complex share a functionally important domain and interact to regulate flowering of Arabidopsis. The Plant Cell 18(11):2971-84, 2006. 

Laubinger S, Marchal V, Gentilhomme J, Wenkel S, Adrian J, Jang S, Kulajta C, Braun H, Coupland G, Hoecker U. Arabidopsis SPA proteins regulate photoperiodic flowering and interact with the floral inducer CONSTANS to regulate its stability. Development 133(16):3213-22, 2006. 

Becker D, Hoth S, Ache P, Wenkel S, Roelfsema MR, Meyerhoff O, Hartung W, Hedrich R. Regulation of the ABA-sensitive Arabidopsis potassium channel gene GORK in response to water stress. FEBS Letters 554(1-2):119-26, 2003.

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