Title of Abstract: Sequence Analysis of Disordered Linkers in Plant Villins
Mentors’ Organizations or Departments: Biology Department, Western Washington University ; Chemistry Department, Western Washington University
Research Abstract: Villins are F-actin binding proteins utilized by both plants and vertebrates to help manage cytoskeletal structure. While their role in vertebrates is well understood, plant villins have not been entirely characterized. Villins generally contain a N-terminal gelsolin-like core and C-terminal headpiece with a short polypeptide linker. However, plant villins possess an elongated and disorganized linker not present in vertebrate villins, and the plant linker function is unknown. Using bioinformatics methods and software tools, including our own Perl program for protein partitioning, we conducted the first in-depth sequence analysis comparing plant and vertebrate villin linkers to better understand the unique functional attributes of the plant villin linker. We found that plant villin linkers are distinguished by 1) their increased length; 2) the presence of PEST sequences, thought to signal for protein degradation; and 3) the exhibition of charge partitioning, creating sequence polarity.