Our Lab uses genetic, metabolic engineering, metabolomics, genomics and bioinformatics tools to study the operation of amino acid metabolism in plants within the context of the entire system including transcriptional, metabolic and physiological networks. We show that besides the importance of lysine metabolism in protein synthesis, under stress conditions, lysine metabolism also cross interacts with stress-associated gene expression and also with metabolic programs associated with cellular energy. In addition, we also use metabolic engineering approach, employing bacterial genes, to study the regulation of conversion of primary metabolism into the synthesis of aromatic amino acids and the thousands of secondary metabolites derived from them in the context of the entire transcriptional and metabolic system.
We have also recently initiated a research program to study the regulatory role the autophagy machinery in plant growth under regular growth conditions and exposure to various stresses. We have identified novel plant-specific proteins that are associated with Atg8, one of the central proteins in the autophagy machinery and in the linkage of autophagy to other cellular networks that operate under various physiological and stress-associated conditions. The functions of these proteins, and the significance of their association with Atg8 are being studied using various genetic, molecular and cell biology tools, including knockout, RNAi suppression and over-expression genotypes. One of the proteins we identified is a C2-domain containing proteins, which appear under different circumstances to be localized either in the nucleus or in the vacuole. Two other Atg8-binding proteins are particularly localized in the endoplasmic reticulum.