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Nicholas C. Carpita

Nicholas C. Carpita Profile Picture
Professor of Plant Biology
Ph.D., Colorado State University, Plant Physiology, 1977

Contact Info:

Training Group(s):
Integrative Plant Sciences

Current Research Interests:

Our principal objectives are to characterize the structural and functional architecture of the plant cell wall, to understand the biochemical mechanisms of biosynthesis of its polysaccharides, and to identify the genes that encode the molecular machinery that synthesizes these components. Specific objectives include the identification and characterization of cell wall mutants in Arabidopsis and maize by Fourier transform infrared spectra. Potential mutants identified by this novel spectroscopic method are characterized genetically to determine heritability. A systematic protocol was devised to use biochemical, cytological, and spectroscopic methods to characterize the function of cell-wall biogenesis-related genes in Arabidopsis and maize identified through the mutant screen. We are classifying mutants by artificial neural networks as a database to classify genes of unknown function. We also develop methods to investigate the biosynthesis and topology of cellulose and the mixed-linkage (1,3),(1,4)-ß-D-glucan in maize. We use proteomic and immunological approaches to identify the catalytic machinery and its associated polypeptides. We have also begun a program to characterize the regulation by microRNAs and naturally occurring small interfering RNAs of cellulose synthases and suites of similarly regulated genes in networks that form primary and secondary walls. Finally, we desire to apply our knowledge of cell wall biology to solve practical problems in agriculture. Understanding wall composition and architecture, and the regulation of the synthesis of its components, are essential tools in enhancing biomass quality and quantity for biofuel production.

Selected Publications:

Held, M.A., B. Penning, A.S. Brandt, S.A. Kessans, W. Yong, S.R. Scofield, N.C. Carpita. 2008. Naturally occurring antisense transcripts of cellulose synthase and cellulose synthase-like genes reveal a tightly regulated gene network for cell wall biosynthesis involving small interfering antisense RNAs. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, in revision

Carpita, N.C., McCann, M.C. (2008) Biogenesis of the cell walls of bioenergy grasses. Trends Plant Sci., in press

McCann, M.C., Carpita, N.C. (2008) Designing the deconstruction of plant cell walls. Curr. Opin. Plant Biol., in press

Sindhu, A., T. Langewisch, A. Olek, D.S. Multani, M.C. McCann, W. Vermerris, N.C. Carpita, G. Johal. 2007. Maize Brittle stalk2 encodes a COBRA-like protein expressed in early organ development but required for tissue flexibility at maturity. Plant Physiol. 45, 1444-1459

McCann, M.C., M. Defernez, B.R. Urbanowicz, J.C. Tewari, T. Langewisch, A. Olek, B. Wells, R. H. Wilson, and N.C. Carpita. 2007. Neural network analyses of infrared spectra for classifying cell wall architectures. Plant Physiol. 143, 1314-1326

McCann, M. C., N. C. Carpita. 2005. Looking for invisible phenotypes in cell-wall mutants of Arabidopsis thaliana. Plant Biosystems 139, 80-83

Buckeridge, M. S., C. Rayon, B. R. Urbanowicz, M. A. S. Tiné, N. C. Carpita. 2004. The mixed-linkage (1,3),(1,4)-ß-D-glucans of grasses. Cereal Chem 81, 115-127

Madson, M., C. Dunand, R. Verma, G. F. Vanzin, J. Caplan, X. Li, D. A., Shoue, N. C. Carpita, W-D. Reiter. 2003. Xyloglucan galactosyltransferase, a plant enzyme in cell wall biogenesis homologous to animal exostosins. Plant Cell 15, 1662–1670

Peña, M.J., P. Ryden, M. Madson, A. Smith, W-D. Reiter, N.C. Carpita. 2004. Galactosylation of xyloglucans is essential for maintenance of cell wall tensile strength during cell growth in plants. Plant Physiol. 134, 443–451

Urbanowicz, B. R., C. Rayon, B. Wells, M. C. McCann, and N. C. Carpita. 2004. Topology of the maize (1,3),(1,4)-ß-D-glucan synthase at the Golgi membrane. Plant Physiol 134, 758-768

Carpita, N. C., M. Defernez, K. Findlay, B. Wells, D. A. Shoue, G. Catchpole, R. H. Wilson, and M. C. McCann. 2001. Cell wall architecture of the elongating maize coleoptile. Plant Physiol 127, 551-565

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