A major focus of the Loake laboratory is the redox regulation of plant immunity. In this context, S-nitrosylation, the addition of a nitric oxide (NO) moiety to a protein cysteine thiol to form an S-nitrosothiol, is an important determinant. We have identified a number of key immune regulators whose function is controlled by this redox-based, post-translational modification and have determined the underpinning regulatory mechanisms. Interestingly, some of these NO targets and their associated molecular control strategies are conserved across kingdoms, providing insights into both crop improvement and future biomedical applications.
Many plant immune-related molecules are high value pharmaceuticals. Another interest of the lab is understanding the regulation and biosynthesis of some of these molecules and their associated commercial production in large-scale plant stem cell cultures.