Mitchell Rey Toleco

Metabolic transport into plant mitochondria: promiscuous or specific?

Research Project Summary:

Most members of the mitochondrial carrier family (MCF) are transport proteins found in the inner mitochondrial membrane that link pathways and processes associated with mitochondrial functions such as cellular respiration. In Arabidopsis, 58 MCF proteins have been identified. However, while a number have been extensively investigated at the biochemical level, these studies indicate broad substrate specificities. This lack of specificity is surprising given the metabolic control expected to exist at the inner mitochondrial membrane. We hypothesize that such promiscuity would be sub-optimal for biological control and thus may not necessarily occur in planta. Thus, the main aim of my project is to gain better understanding of the role of MCFs in partitioning metabolites between the mitochondria and the cytosol, specifically metabolic intermediates of the TCA cycle.

During the course of my PhD, I will be taking advantage of the unique capabilities and expertise of each of my supervisors’ labs. The MPI-MP is one of the best places to tease out the role of these transporters in planta by either forward or reverse genetic approaches combined with metabolite profiling. On the other hand, my supervisor’s lab at the University of Melbourne has developed a novel approach to study the transport activity of nucleotide sugar transporters. I intend to extend the capability of this novel technique to look at the transport activity of MCFs.

Project Supervisors:

Duration: 2017- 2020

GR Student Profile:

I was born and raised in the Philippines. I started out as a chemist and went on to earn a Master’s degree in Molecular Biology and Biotechnology from the University of the Philippines Los Baños. For my Master’s thesis, I joined the C4 Rice Center at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) where I worked on plastidic transporters for the creation of a C4 rice prototype. Through the Melbourne-Potsdam PhD program, I am pursuing this interest on metabolite partitioning and transporter biochemistry.

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