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RESEARCH INTERESTS

Our lab is interested in understanding the molecular mechanisms underlying sugar sensing and signal transduction in plants. In the early work, we showed that hexokinase is involved in sugar signal transduction. We then showed that both hexokinase-dependent and hexokinase-independent sugar signal transduction mechanisms exist in plants. We also helped to demonstrate that plant sugar response could be modulated by stress hormone, hence forging the concept of sugar-stress hormone crosstalk. Later we found that sugar induced stress hormone accumulation is partly responsible for sugar-stress hormone crosstalk. Based on the results of recent transcriptome analyses, we proposed a complex sugar signaling network mediated by multiple signal transduction pathways. To further decipher this network, we began to systematically characterize sugar responsive transcription factors for their roles in various sugar signaling mechanisms. We showed that sugar responsive transcription factor AtbZIP1 could form a complex bZIP protein dimerization network that differentially regulates downstream sugar responsive genes. With recent new findings on another group of sugar responsive transcription factors, our current research is focused on: 1) The functional analysis of Arabidopsis thaliana Tandem Zinc Finger (TZF) genes; and 2) Revealing the role of AtTZFs in plant P-body and stress granule function and assembly.