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Research

Our center is interested in the early signaling events by which plants sense environmental signals and decode to give the appropriate responses. Upon perception of external signals, cell surface receptors trigger an increase in cytosolic free calcium concentration, which is mediated by ion channels. Our long-term goals are to identify these receptors and ion channels, isolate their interacting components, and assign molecular functions to them. Currently, we are using multidisciplinary approaches of biophysics, biochemistry, cell biology, molecular genetics, function genomics and bioinformatics to dissect the signaling cascades of external calcium as well as nitric oxide in the model plant Arabidopsis.

Recently, we mainly focused on the following areas:

  1. Calcium-mediated sensory process
  2. Nitric oxide signaling
  3. ABA signaling
  4. Electrophysiology
  5. Plant-Microbe Interaction
  6. Evolutionary and functional analysis of protein families that are involved in early signaling events
  7. Dynamic properties of protein-protein interaction networks

Calcium-mediated sensory process

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Ca2+  signals are a core regulator of plant cell physiology and cellular responses to the environment. The channels, pumps, and carriers that underlie Ca2+  homeostasis provide the mechanistic basis for generation of Ca2+  signals by regulating movement of Ca2+  ions between subcellular compartments and between the cell and its extracellular environ-ment. The information encoded within the Ca2+  transients is decoded and transmitted by a toolkit of Ca2+ binding proteins that regulate transcription via Ca2+-responsive promoter elements and that regulate protein phosphorylation. Ca2+ -signaling networks have architectural structures comparable to scale-free networks and bow tie networks in computing, and these similarities help explain such properties of Ca2+ -signaling networks as robustness, evolvability, and the ability to process multiple signals simultaneously.

Nitric oxide signaling

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The critical function of NO in pathogen defense and abiotic stress responses has been well recognized. Nonetheless, the molecular components in NO biosynthesis and signaling remain largely unknown. Using both forward and reverse genetics approaches, we try to discover new cures and new basic information on this amazing field.

ABA signaling

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The plant hormone abscisic acid (ABA) regulates many key processes in plants and serves as an endogenous messenger in biotic and abiotic stress responses.

Electrophysiology

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We use patch clamp and voltage clamp to do the Electrophysiology experiments.

Plant-Microbe Interaction

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The environmental changes can be sensed by plants. It is very interesting to know how does plants perceive and response to biotic and abiotic stress. My project focuses on plant perceive pathogen and initiate immune response.

Evolutionary and functional analysis of protein families that are involved in early signaling events

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To learn more about the functions of protein families that participate in the early signaling events by which plants sense environmental signals and decode to give the appropriate responses, bioinformatics analysis is used on the aspects of evolution and functions.

Dynamic properties of protein-protein interaction networks

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Most of the genome-scale protein-protein interactions, constructed by either experimental or computational methods, are aggregated and ignore the dynamics of interactions during different time series and in different cellular localizations. However, biological processes are not static. In this project, gene expression profiles under various conditions (as time series) and sublocalization information will be added to decompose and visualize the aggregated network both temporally and specially. Then the dynamic properties of decomposed subnetworks corresponding to different time series and spaces will be studied on various levels. It will be helpful for deeper understanding of biological functions buried in the networks.