Protein regulation in development and stress

Group Leaders
L. Maria Lois
CRAG Director, CSIC Scientist
Group Members
Lois research group

Postdoctoral Researchers

General research support

Undergrad or Master Students


Our laboratory is interested in uncovering biological and mechanistic insights into the regulation of protein function by Small Ubiquitin Modifier (SUMO) conjugation.

Plants have developed complex mechanisms to cope with adverse environmental conditions and, among them, protein modification by SUMO (Small Ubiquitin-like MOdifier) has emerged as a major mechanism that facilitates plant tolerance to a wide range of abiotic and biotic stresses (Benlloch and Lois 2018). 

Our group is interested in three main lines of research:

1. Understanding the molecular mechanisms that control SUMO conjugation in vivo

Consistent with being an essential process, we found that SUMO conjugation machinery is under different layers of regulation. We aim to identify the molecular effectors that mediate this regulation.

2. Uncovering novel biological roles of SUMO conjugation and the molecular mechanisms behind.

Among the multiple roles of SUMO conjugation, we are interested in understanding: 

  • The role of SUMO conjugation in developmental transitions, such as seed development and germination. 
  • The molecular determinants that mediate plant resistance to necrotrophic fungal pathogens by SUMO.

3. Developing molecular tools to modulate SUMO conjugation in vivo.

Taking advantage of the mechanistic insights into SUMO conjugation generated by our group and others, we have developed genetic and biochemical tools that allow us to modulate SUMO conjugation in vivo. These tools provide opportunities for developing novel agronomic strategies. The advantages of some of these tools expand to health therapies.

Selected Publications

Sharma, M., Fuertes, D., Perez-Gil, J., Lois, L.M.
SUMOylation in Phytopathogen Interactions: Balancing Invasion and Resistance
(2021) Frontiers in Cell and Developmental Biology, 9, art. no. 703795, .

Orosa, B., Üstün, S., Calderón Villalobos, L.I.A., Genschik, P., Gibbs, D., Holdsworth, M.J., Isono, E., Lois, M., Trujillo, M., Sadanandom, A.
Plant proteostasis – shaping the proteome: a research community aiming to understand molecular mechanisms that control protein abundance
(2020) New Phytologist, 227 (4), pp. 1028-1033.

Liu, B., Maria Lois, L., Reverter, D.
Structural insights into SUMO E1–E2 interactions in Arabidopsis uncovers a distinctive platform for securing SUMO conjugation specificity across evolution
(2019) Biochemical Journal, 476 (14), pp. 2127-2139.

Benlloch, R., Maria Lois, L.
Sumoylation in plants: Mechanistic insights and its role in drought stress
(2018) Journal of Experimental Botany, 69(19): 4539-4554

Castaño-Miquel, L., Mas, A., Teixeira, I., Seguí, J., Perearnau, A., Thampi, B.N., Schapire, A.L., Rodrigo, N., La Verde, G., Manrique, S., Coca, M., Lois, L.M.
SUMOylation Inhibition Mediated by Disruption of SUMO E1-E2 Interactions Confers Plant Susceptibility to Necrotrophic Fungal Pathogens
(2017) Molecular Plant, 10(5): 709-720

Lois LM and Matthiesen R. eds. ç
(2016) Plant Proteostasis: Methods and Protocols. Methods in Molecular Biology. Humana Press.

Mas, A., Amenós, M., Lois, L.M.
Quantitative analysis of subcellular distribution of the SUMO conjugation system by confocal microscopy imaging
(2016) In: Lois LM, Matthiesen R, eds. Plant Proteostasis: Methods and Protocols. Methods in Molecular Biology, 1450:135-150

Castaño-Miquel, L., Segui, J., Manrique, S., Teixeira, I., Carretero-Paulet, L., Atencio, F., Lois, L.M.
Diversification of SUMO-activating enzyme in arabidopsis: Implications in SUMO conjugation
(2013) Molecular Plant, 6(5): 1646-1660

Castaño-Miquel, L., Seguí, J., Lois, L.M.
Distinctive properties of Arabidopsis SUMO paralogues support the in vivo predominant role of AtSUMO1/2 isoforms
(2011) Biochemical Journal, 436(3): 581-590

Chosed, R., Mukherjee, S., Lois, L.M., Orth, K.
Evolution of a signalling system that incorporates both redundancy and diversity: Arabidopsis SUMOylation
(2006) Biochemical Journal, 398(3):521-529

Lois, L.M., Lima, C.D.
Structures of the SUMO E1 provide mechanistic insights into SUMO activation and E2 recruitment to E1
(2005) EMBO Journal, 24(3): 439-451

Lois, L.M., Lima, C.D., Chua, N.-H.
Small ubiquitin-like modifier modulates abscisic acid signaling in Arabidopsis
(2003) Plant Cell, 15(6): 1347-1359