Kasper Sjödin Kristensen

Kasper Sjödin Kristensen

PhD fellow

Lytic polysaccharide monooxygenases (LPMOs) are a recently discovered class of carbohydrate active enzymes. LPMOs have been shown to cleave the glycosidic bond in carbohydrates such as cellulose, chitin, and starch. LPMOs are widely present in microbial genomes, particularly in basidiomycetal fungi where LPMOs are the rule rather than the exception.

Despite the rapid discovery of new LPMOs and the biochemical and biophysical characterisation of these, research in the biological function of LPMOs is scarce. The pathonic bacteria V. cholerae and Listeria monocytogenes both express LPMO virulence factors, though the molecular function of these are unclear. A recently published paper shows how a chitin acting LPMO in the fungus Neurospora crassa is required for self/non-self-recognition prior to cell fusion.

The main objective of this project is to elucidate the biological function of LPMOs in plant pathogens. Cryptococcus neoformans is well studied in humans and a wide repertoire of laboratory protocols and resources is available, making it a suited organism to delve into the novel research area of the biological role of LPMOs. Since the C. neoformans genome encodes three LPMOs with different substrates it allows research in several distinct LPMO families.

Main objective:
Contribute to the understanding of the biological function of LPMOs expressed by plant pathogens

Secondary objectives:
Contribute to the understanding of Cryptococcus as a plant pathogen
Contribute to the methodology in Cryptococcus (fungus) research

Primary fields of research

Characterisation of LPMOs in the microorganism – from gene to secreted protein
Under what conditions are LPMOs expressed?
How are LPMOs transported from the endoplasmic reticulum and out of the cell?
Biochemical characterisation of Cryptococcus LPMOs

The function of LPMOs in pathogen-plant interactions
How does the pathogen infect the plant? Necrotrophic, biotrophic, hemi-biotrophic?
Are the LPMOs spatially or temporally regulated during infection?
What is the role of plant cell wall-specific LPMOs during the infection?

ID: 226567488