Dr. Fionn McLoughlin


Fionn is now a Postdoctoral research fellow in Richard Vierstra’s lab at Washington University in St. Louis.



Vierling Lab work: The role of Heat shock protein 101 in the acquired thermotolerance of Arabidopsis thaliana


Heat stress is increasingly an agricultural problem in many parts of the world and causes a drastic reduction in crop growth and productivity. Plants have evolved various mechanisms to deal with heat stress, and different species can acquire cellular heat tolerance and withstand normally lethal temperatures if first exposed to a short, elevated sub-lethal temperature. In Arabidopsis thaliana this ?acquired thermotolerance? is lost in different heat shock protein (hsp) 101 mutants, showing that HSP101 plays a crucial role in the acquisition of heat tolerance. Heat stress causes protein unfolding, which can lead to non-functional protein aggregates. Hsp101 forms a ring shaped hexamer that can extract proteins from heat-induced aggregates. In cooperation with other chaperones and co-factors this can result in refolding of the denatured protein. Thus, HSP101 has a critical role in ?cellular protein quality control? during heat stress. Although significant progress has been made in determining the mechanical characteristics of this protein, little is known about the interacting proteins and in vivo activity of HSP101 and its orthologues in various organisms. My research is dedicated to 1) identification of proteins that interact with HSP101 as a co-factor or as a substrate 2) identification of repressor mutants that restore the acquired thermotolerance in the absence of HSP101 3) determining the role/importance of several domains of HSP101. Student projects are available on several subjects which offer a wide variety of approaches and techniques. Biochemical, genetic and physiological studies (or a combination of the mentioned) are possible. If you have any interest please contact me.