Charles Després

 Professor, Biological Sciences

Office: Cairns 522
905 688 5550 x3100

Professor Després is an expert molecular biologist and biochemist studying signaling pathways involved in plant immunity, with over 20 years of experience in this field. He is known internationally through his paradigm-shifting discoveries published in high-impact journals. Charles has received numerous prestigious awards, including a Tier II Canada Research Chair and the C.D. Nelson Award from the Canadian Society of Plant Biologists. Aside from his passion for basic research, Charles is working on developing biotechnological and chemical solutions to the emerging problem of pathogen resistance to common fungicides used for crop protection. Recently, the Després Lab has discovered the receptor that detects the immune-hormone salicylic acid and allows plants to mount an immune response. Charles is currently developing a technology platform for target-based agrochemical discovery. His goal is to position Brock University as the Canadian hub for agrochemical discovery, providing solutions for the major commercial crops.

The Després lab’s basic research interests are focused on understanding the signal transduction pathway and the biochemical mechanisms by which NPR1 regulates gene expression in the model system Arabidopsis. Given that the salicylic acid-receptor, NPR1, interacts with transition metals, the lab has also an interest in metal chemistry as it relates to proteins. The lab employs a multidisciplinary approach using molecular, biochemical, biophysical, genomic, and chemical tools to reach its objectives.

Professor Després is a founding member of the center, which was formed to encourage collaborations between professors working with pharma and agrochemical companies. ABC was formed in 2012 by Brock University who donated $1M in cash and continues its support of the center through further in-kind contributions. BioLinc, also formed in 2012, is Brock’s business and technology incubator and provides the infrastructure for new technology companies in the early stages of their development. ABC and BioLinc are working together to translate Després’ technology.

Selected Publications
Wu Y., Zhang D., Chu J.Y., Boyle P., Wang Y., Brindle I. D., De Luca V., Després, C. (2012). The Arabidopsis NPR1 protein is a receptor for the plant defense hormone salicylic acid. Cell Reports 1: 639-647.

Boyle P., Le S.E., Rochon A., Shearer H.L., Murmu J., Chu J.Y., Fobert P.R., Després C. (2009). The BTB/POZ domain of the Arabidopsis disease resistance protein NPR1 interacts with the repression domain of TGA2 to negate its function. Plant Cell 21: 3700-3713.

González-Lamothe, R., Boyle P., Dulude, A., Roy, V., Lezin-Doumbou, C., Kaur, G.S., Bouarab, K., Després, C., Brisson, N. (2008). The transcriptional activator Pti4 is required for the recruitment of a repressosome nucleated by repressor SEBF at the potato PR-10a gene. Plant Cell 20: 3136-3147.

Rochon, A., Boyle, P., Wignes, T., Fobert, P.R., Després, C. (2006). The co-activator function of the Arabidopsis NPR1 requires the core of its BTB/POZ and the oxidation of C-terminal cysteines. Plant Cell 18: 3670–3685.

Other Publications
Shearer H.L., Cheng Y.T., Wang L., Liu J., Boyle P., Després, C., Zhang Y., Li X., and Fobert, P.R. (2012). Arabidopsis Clade I TGA Transcription Factors Regulate Plant Defenses in an NPR1-Independent Fashion. Mol. Plant Microbe Interact. 25:1459-1468.

Boyle P. and Després, C. (2010). Dual-function transcription factors and their entourage. Unique and unifying themes governing two pathogenesis-related genes. Plant Signaling and Behavior. 6: 629-634.

Cheng, Y.T., Germain, H., Wiermer, M., Bi, D., Xu, F., Garcia, A.V., Wirthmueller, L., Després, C., Parker, J.E., Zhang, Y., and Li, X. (2009). Nuclear pore complex component MOS7/Nup88 is required for innate immunity and nuclear accumulation of defense regulators in Arabidopsis. Plant Cell 21: 2503-2516.

Shearer, H.L., Wang, L., DeLong, C., Després, C., and Pierre R. Fobert (2009). NPR1 enhances the DNA binding activity of the Arabidopsis bZIP transcription factor TGA7. Botany 87: 561-570.

Boyle P., Fobert, P.R., and Després, C. (2009). Disease Resistance in Arabidopsis, Starring TGA2 and also Featuring NPR1. Chapter 4 In: Molecular Plant Microbe-Interaction. Bouarab K, Brisson N, Daayf, F (Eds). CABI, Cambridge, MA.: 75-93.

Després, C. and Fobert, P.R. (2006). In vivo biochemical characterization of transcription factors regulating plant defense response to disease. Can. J. Plant Pathol. 28: 3-15.

Fobert, P.R. and Després, C. (2005). Redox control of systemic acquired resistance. Curr. Opin. Plant Biol. 8: 378-382.

Desveaux, D., Subramaniam, R., Després, C., Mess, J.-N., Lévesque, C., Fobert, P., Dangl, J., and Brisson, N. (2004). A “Whirly” transcription factor is required for salicylic acid-dependent disease resistance in Arabidopsis. Developmental Cell 6: 229-240.

Després, C., Chuback, C., Rochon, A., Clark, R., Bethune, T., Desveaux, D., and Fobert, P.R. (2003). The Arabidopsis NPR1 disease resistance protein is a novel cofactor that confers redox regulation of DNA binding activity to the basic domain/leucine zipper transcription factor TGA1. The Plant Cell 15: 2181-2191.

Chakravarthy, S., Tuori, R.P., D’Ascenzo, M.D., Fobert, P.R., Després, C., and Martin,G.B. (2003). The tomato transcription factor Pti4 regulates defense-related gene expression via GCC box- and non-GCC box cis elements. The Plant Cell15: 3033-3050.

Desveaux, D., Després, C., Joyeux, A., Subramaniam, R., and Brisson, N. (2000). PBF-2 is a novel single-stranded DNA binding factor implicated in PR-10a gene activation in potato. The Plant Cell 12: 1477-1489.

Després, C., DeLong, C., Glaze, S., Liu, E., and Fobert, P.R. (2000). The Arabidopsis NPR1/NIM1 enhances the DNA binding activity of a subgroup of the TGA family of bZIP transcription factors. The Plant Cell 12: 279-290.

Subramaniam, R., Després, C., and Brisson, N. (1997). A functional homolog of mammalian protein kinase C participates in the elicitor-induced defense response in potato. The Plant Cell 9: 653-664.

Després, C., Subramaniam, R., Matton, D., and Brisson, N. (1995). The activation of the potato PR-10a gene requires the phosphorylation of the nuclear factor PBF-1. The Plant Cell 7: 589-598.

Després, C., Saba El Leil, M., Rivard, S., Morse, D., and Cappadocia, M. (1994). Molecular cloning of two Solanum chacoense S-alleles and a hypothesis concerning their evolution. Sex. Plant. Reprod. 7: 169-176.