Marinus Pilon

Marinus PilonProfessor
Office: BIO 448
Phone: 970-495-5490
Education: Ph.D., Utrecht University, The Netherlands
Email: Marinus.Pilon@ColoState.EDU

The research in my group focuses on processes by which plants regulate the incorporation of Fe and Cu ions into proteins that are involved in photosynthesis in plant chloroplasts. Metal ions are essential to all living organisms; for instance respiratory and photosynthetic electron transfer chains depend on metal cofactors. Despite being essential, these metal ions can also be toxic when present in excess, and all organisms need to regulate the uptake and distribution of these elements. This homeostatic control is especially complex in plants. Plants must do with the ions present in the soil; different distributions of metal ions are needed during the vegetative growth phase and seed development, the presence of plastids gives plants a more complex sub-cellular organization compared to other eukaryotes. To study the machinery involved in metal cofactor homeostasis in plant chloroplasts, we are analyzing Arabidopsis thaliana genes that encode plastid-localized homologues of prokaryotic or algal proteins involved in metal homeostasis. We use both a genetic approach (point mutants and knock-out mutants, over-expression, and antisensing), and a biochemical approach (experiments with isolated proteins and chloroplasts, immuno-localization experiments) to elucidate the mechanisms involved. The photosynthetic activity of chloroplasts is pivotal to plant dry mass production. Furthermore, an important determinant of the nutritional value of plants is their metal content, particularly the iron content of edible parts. Thus, a better understanding of metal ion homeostasis may benefit crop productivity, human nutrition, renewable biofuel production and possibly environmental cleanup using plants.

Selected Publications

Wiebke Tapken, Karl Ravet, Muhammad Shahbaz and Marinus Pilon (2015) Regulation of Cu delivery to chloroplast proteins. Plant Signal Behav. 10:e1046666. doi: 10.1080/15592324.2015.1046666

Tapken W, Kim J, Nishimura K, van Wijk KJ, Pilon M. (2014)  New Phytol. 2014 Sep 29. doi: 10.1111/nph.13093.

Pilon M, Ravet K, Tapken W (2010) The biogenesis and physiological function of chloroplast superoxide dismutases. Biochem Biophys Acta. doi:10.1016/j.bbabio.2010.11.002

Burkhead JL, Reynolds KA, Abdel-Ghany SE, Cohu CM, Pilon M. (2009).

      Copper homeostasis (Thansley review). New Phytologist 182, 799-816.

Cohu CM, Abdel-Ghany SE, Gogolin Reynolds KA, Onofrio AM, Bodecker JR, Kimbrel

     JA, Niyogi KK, Pilon M (2009) Copper delivery by the copper chaperone for

      chloroplast and cytosolic copper/zinc-superoxide dismutases: regulation and 

      unexpected phenotypes in an Arabidopsis mutant. Mol Plant. 2, 1336-1350

Abdel-Ghany SE and Pilon M (2008) MicroRNA-mediated Systemic Down-regulation of Copper Protein Expression in Response to Low Copper Availability in Arabidopsis. J Biol Chem 283, 15932–15945

Yamasaki H, Abdel-Ghany SE, Cohu CM, Kobayashi Y, Shikanai T, Pilon M (2007) Regulation of Copper Homeostasis by Micro-RNA in Arabidopsis. J Biol Chem. 282:16369-78.

N Murthy U. M., S Ollagnier-de-Choudens, Y Sanakis, SE. Abdel-Ghany, C Rousset, H Ye, M Fontecave, EAH Pilon-Smits, and M Pilon (2007). Characterization of Arabidopsis thaliana SufE2 and SufE3: functions in chloroplast iron-sulfur cluster assembly and NAD synthesis. J. Biol. Chem. 282, 18254-18264.

Van Hoewyk D, Abdel-Ghany SE, Cohu C, Herbert S, Kugrens P, Pilon M, Pilon-Smits EAH (2007) The Arabidopsis cysteine desulfurase CpNifS is essential for maturation of iron-sulfur cluster proteins, photosynthesis, and chloroplast development. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 104, 5686-5691.

Cohu CM and Pilon M (2007) Regulation of superoxide dismutase expression by copper availability. Physiologia Plantarum, 129, 747-755.

Ye H, Abdel-Ghany SE, Anderson TD, Pilon-Smits EA, Pilon M (2006). CpSufE activates the cysteine desulfurase CpNifS for chloroplastic Fe-S cluster formation. J Biol Chem. 281: 8958-69

Pilon M, Abdel-Ghany SE, Cohu CM, Gogolin KA, Ye H (2006): Copper cofactor delivery in plant cells. Curr Opin Plant Biol. 9:256-63.

Abdel-Ghany SE, Ye H, Garifullina GF, Zhang L, Pilon-Smits EAH, Pilon M (2005) Iron-Sulfur Cluster Biogenesis in Chloroplasts: Involvement of the Scaffold Protein CpIscA. Plant Physiology, 138, 161-172.

Abdel-Ghany SE, M�ller-Moul� P, Niyogi KK, Pilon M* and Shikanai T. (2005) Two P-type ATPases are required for copper delivery in Arabidopsis thaliana chloroplasts. Plant Cell, 17, 1233-1251 (* Corresponding author).