Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

About the PNAS Member Editor
Name Chrispeels, Maarten J.
Location University of California, San Diego
Primary Field Plant Biology
Secondary Field Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences
 Election Citation
Chrispeels' pioneering research led to important insights into plant cell biology. By elucidating pathways of protein modifications and cellular trafficking, he laid much of the foundation for our understanding of how seeds synthesize, accumulate, and mobilize reserve proteins. He also described a molecular mechanism for water uptake into seeds.
 Research Interests
My research interests are at the intersection of plant cell biology, genetic engineering of plants, and agriculture. I became interested in protein secretion at an early stage in my career, and much of my recent work has been on the role of the secretory system of plant cells in modifying proteins and delivering them to the vacuole. The cells of seeds have protein-filled vacuoles that contain storage proteins, lectins, and enzyme inhibitors, and we have combined a study of seed formation (embryogenesis) with an analysis of vacuolar targeting signals with a detailed study of the role of the Golgi complex in the modification of asparagine-linked glycans in plant cells. More recently, my research has moved in two new directions: a study of water channel proteins (aquaporins), which we discovered first in the vacuolar membranes and later in the plasma membranes of plant cells, and the use of proteinaceous enzyme inhibitors to create insect-resistant seeds. For this work we focus on naturally occurring alpha-amylase inhibitors that can inhibit the development of larvae that infest starch-rich seeds.

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