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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:
carpita@purdue.edu

Training Group(s):
Integrative Plant Sciences


Current Research Interests:

With more than 200 billion tons synthesized each year in the natural environment, cellulose is the most abundant biopolymer on Earth. Cellulose microfibrils, the fundamental scaffolding of the plant cell wall, is a para-crystalline array of several dozen (1->4)-b-D-glucan chains synthesized at the plasma membrane surface by large multicomponent complexes of cellulose synthase (CesA) proteins. We discovered that recombinant catalytic domains of CesA are two-domain structures that dimerize using Small-Angle X-ray Scattering (SAXS) experiments to derive 3-D surface contour structures (Olek et al. 2014). The catalytic domains of plant CesAs contain two unique sequences not found in prokaryotic ancestors ¬– a Plant-Conserved Region (P-CR) and Class-Specific Region (CSR) of unknown function. Molecular docking experiments with the catalytic core predicted that the CSRs of CesAs are the dimerization domains. We aim to provide the first crystal structure of a plant CesA catalytic domain. Towards that goal, we crystallized a recombinant Plant-Conserved Region (P-CR) and showed that it is primarily a coiled-coil domain positioned near the entrance to the active site of the catalytic core (Rushton et al. 2017). With Wen Jiang (Purdue) we have begun studies to define the assembly of CesAs into complexes at the Golgi membrane as part of a broader effort to characterize the dynamics of the Golgi proteome. From substrate binding stoichiometry, we know that each CesA protein synthesizes a single (1->4)-b-D-glucan chain of a microfibril (Olek et al. 2014). In addition to our work on cellulose synthesis, we have programs that explore cellulose assembly in the cell wall, the biochemical uniqueness of the cell walls of grasses, gene discovery in maize and Arabidopsis related to cell wall synthesis and assembly, and the use of genome-wide association studies to identify candidate genes contributing to traits relevant to biomass catalytic conversion to biofuels and bio-products.



Selected Publications:

Rushton PS, Olek AT, Makowski L, Badger J, Steussy CN, Carpita NC, Stauffacher CV (2016) Rice Cellulose SynthaseA8 Plant-Conserved Region is an anti-parallel coiled-coil located at the catalytic core entrance. Plant Physiol, in revision

Dugard CK*, Mertz RA*, Rayon C, Mercadante D, Hart C, Benatti MR, Olek AT, SanMiguel P, Cooper BR, Rieter W-D, McCann MC, Carpita NC (2016) The cell wall arabinose-deficient Arabidopsis thaliana mutant murus5 encodes a defective allele of REVERSIBLY GLYCOSYLATED POLYPEPTIDE2. Plant Physiol 171: 1905-1920 [*co-first authors] [doi: 10.1104/pp.15.01922]

McCann MC, Carpita NC (2015) Biomass recalcitrance: A multi-scale, multi-factor and

conversion-specific property. J Exp Bot 66: 4109-4118. [doi:10.1093/jxb/erv267]

Penning BW, Sykes RW, Babcock NC, Dugard CK, Held MA, Klimek JF, Shreve J, Fowler M, Gamblin D, Ziebell A, Davis M, Decker SR, Filley TR, Mosier NS, Springer NM, Thimmapuram J, Weil CF, McCann MC, Carpita NC (2014) Genetic determinants for enzymatic digestion of lignocellulosic biomass are independent of those for lignin abundance in a maize recombinant inbred population. Plant Physiol 165: 1475-1487. [doi: 10.1104/pp.114.242446]

Olek AT, Rayon CJ, Makowski L, Kim H-R, Ciesielski P, Badger J, Paul LN, Ghosh S, Kihara D, Crowley M, Himmel ME, Bolin JT, Carpita NC (2013) Small-angle x-ray scattering reveals the structure of the catalytic domain of a cellulose synthase and its assembly into dimers. Plant Cell 26: 2966-3009. [10.1105/tpc.114.126862].

Rayon C, Olek AT, Carpita NC (2013) Towards redesigning cellulose biosynthesis for improved bioenergy feedstocks. In: Plants and Bioenergy (Carpita NC, Buckeridge MS, McCann MC, eds). Springer, New York. pp. 183-193.[doi: 10.1007/978-1-4614-9329-7_11]

Held M, Penning B, Brandt AS, Kessans SA, Yong W, Scofield SR, Carpita NC (2008) Small-interfering RNAs from natural antisense transcripts derived from a cellulose synthase gene modulate cell wall biosynthesis in barley RNAs. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 105: 20534-20539. [10.1073/pnas.0809408105]

Naran R, Chen G, Carpita NC (2008) Novel rhamnogalacturonan I and arabinoxylan polysaccharides of flax seed mucilage. Plant Physiol 148: 132-141. [doi: 10.1104/pp.108.123513]

Urbanowicz BR, Rayon C, Carpita NC (2004) Topology of the maize mixed linkage (1?3),(1?4)-?-D-glucan synthase at the Golgi membrane. Plant Physiol 134: 758–768. [doi: 10.1104/pp.103.032011]

Vergara CE, Carpita NC (2001) ß-D-Glycan synthases and the CesA gene family: Lessons to be learned from the mixed-linkage (1?3),(1?4)-ß-D-glucan synthase. Plant Mol Biol 47: 145-160. [doi:10.1023/A:1010631431620]

Carpita NC, Gibeaut DM (1993) Structural models of primary cell walls in flowering plants: Consistency of molecular structure with the physical properties of the walls during growth. Plant J 3: 1-30. [doi: 10.1111/j.1365-313X]

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