Gatz, Christiane, Prof. Dr.

Professor of Plant Molecular Biology

  • Dr. rer.nat. (1985) at the Institute for Biochemistry, Technical University Darmstadt
  • Postdoctoral fellow at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, USA
  • Habilitation in Molecular Genetics at the Freie Universität Berlin in 1992
  • Professor at the University of Bielefeld (1993 – 1995)
  • Alfried Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach-Award for young university professors (1994)
  • Professor at the University of Göttingen since 1996

Major Research Interests

Our laboratory is interested in the molecular mechanisms establishing plant innate immunity. We focus on the elucidation of signal transduction mechanisms that lead to transcriptional reprogramming in the course of plant defense responses against bacteria and fungi. Plants have developed multiple layers of defense responses against pathogens. In general, infection of the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana with biotrophic pathogens (pathogens that exploit resources of living cells) leads to the activation of salicylic acid (SA)-mediated defense responses, whereas infection with necrotrophic pathogens (pathogens that kill cells to obtain access to nutrients) elicits jasmonic acid/ethylene (JA/ET)-dependent responses. If plants are infected by both types of pathogens, the SA pathway represses the JA/ET pathway (cross-talk). Members of the TGA family of transcription factors have been identified as essential regulators of both responses. While the SA-mediated mechanisms that activate TGA factors have been elucidated in considerable detail it has remained unknown how these factors mediate the negative effect of SA on the JA/ET response (Zander et al., 2010; Zander et al 2014). In this context, we have identified the family of plant-specific ROXY-type glutaredoxins, which interact with TGA factors to influence defense responses (Ndamukong at al., 2007; Zander et al., 2012). A central question in our lab is as to how ROXYs regulate the activity of TGA factors.
We combine genetic (e.g. analysis of mutants and double mutants, generation of mutants using the CRISPR/Cas genome editing system), molecular (e.g. gene expression analysis by real-time RT PCR), cell biological (subcellular localization and protein-protein-interaction studies in living cells) and biochemical (e.g. chromatin immunoprecipitation, biotin switch assays to study the in vivo redox state of proteins) approaches to gain novel insights into these complex mechanisms.
A further project analyzes the function of the JA receptor COI1 in the defense against the vascular pathogen Verticillium longisporum. Whereas COI1 usually promotes defense responses against necrotrophic fungi when activated by JA, it promotes susceptibility independently from JA in response to infection with V. longisporum (Ralhan et al., 2012). Our aim is to understand the activation and the downstream effects of this novel COI1 function. Moreover, we aim to elucidate the evolution of JA synthesis and COI1-dependent JA signaling in non-seed plants.

Homepage Department/Research Group

Selected Recent Publications

  • Uhrig JF, Huang LJ, Barghahn S, Willmer M, Thurow C, Gatz, C (2016) CC-type glutaredoxins recruit the transcriptional co-repressor TOPLESS to TGA-dependent target promoters in Arabidopsis thaliana. Biochim Biophy Acta 1860:218-226
  • Zander M, Thurow C, Gatz C (2014) TGA transcription factors activate the salicylic acid-suppressible branch of the ethylene-induced defense program by regulating ORA59 expression. Plant Physiol 65: 1671-1683
  • Ralhan A, Schottle S, Thurow C, Iven T, Feussner I, Polle A, Gatz C (2012) The vascular pathogen Verticillium longisporum requires a jasmonic acid-independent COI1 function in roots to elicit disease symptoms in Arabidopsis shoots. Plant Physiol 159, 1192-1203
  • Zander M, Chen S, Imkampe J, Thurow C, Gatz C (2011) Repression of the Arabidopsis thaliana jasmonic acid/ethylene-induced defense pathway by TGA-interacting glutaredoxins depends on their C-Terminal ALWL motif. Mol Plant 5, 831-40
  • Zander M, La Camera S, Lamotte O, Metraux JP, Gatz C (2010) Arabidopsis thaliana class-II TGA transcription factors are essential activators of jasmonic acid/ethylene-induced defense responses. Plant J 61, 200-210