Western University BiologyWestern Science

Priti Krishna, PhD

Protein Folding / Hormone Regulation / Functional Genomics


Priti Krishna Position:
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Professor
Biological & Geological Sciences 3068
Biological & Geological Sciences 3061
(519) 661-2111 x 86406
519 661-3935
pkrishna@uwo.ca

1. Plant hsp90 chaperone complex and its role in signal transduction

This project is focused on obtaining a detailed understanding of hsp90 functions and its mode of action in plants. The significance of hsp90 is indicated by 1) Hsp90 is a unique molecular chaperone in that it interacts with multiple key components of signaling pathways regulating growth and development of organisms under normal growth conditions, and it also protects cells from the damaging effects of denaturing stress; 2) Hsp90 could be a capacitor for morphological evolution, linking response to environmental stresses with development in a way that could influence evolutionary change; 3) Hsp90 is a promising drug target due to its interactions with signaling components. This is best exemplified in animals where hsp90 inhibitors are being developed to specifically target hsp90 interactions with key oncogenic client proteins, thereby inhibiting cancer progression.

At present, little is known about the functions and mode of action of hsp90 in plants. A good knowledge of the plant hsp90 system is a prerequisite to understanding how proteins are folded, stabilized, activated and trafficked in plant cells. With a good understanding of the plant hsp90 it may be possible to develop ways to alter the information flowing through specific signaling pathways and to change the overall response to signals. The objectives of this project in my laboratory are to:

1) define the hsp90-based chaperone complex in plant cells by studying the co-chaperones of hsp90 and identifying the functional interrelationships between the different components of the complex

2) identify client proteins of plant hsp90 using a broad proteomics-based approach, and to study the functional significance of hsp90:client protein interaction

2. Brassinosteroid-mediated stress responses

This project is focused on understanding the molecular mechanism by which brassinosteroids (BRs), a group of naturally occurring plant steroidal compounds, confer tolerance in plants to a range of environmental stresses. Recent molecular genetic studies have established an essential role for BRs in plant growth and development, however, despite indications of a positive influence of BRs on plant stress responses in preliminary studies, confirmation of the ability of BRs to modulate plant stress responses as well as a good insight into how BRs promote stress tolerance are lacking. BRs offer the unique possibility of increasing crop yields through both changing plant metabolism and protecting plants from environmental stresses. With a good understanding of the mechanism(s) underlying BR-mediated stress tolerance, it may be possible to engineer effective modes of stress resistance in plants, as well as develop potent plant growth regulators in agriculture for maximum benefit. The objectives of this project in my laboratory are to:

1) target hormone manipulation for increasing seed yield and stress tolerance in model and crop plants

2) identify changes at the levels of transcriptome, proteome, and metabolome in response to BR

3) identify best points for genetic intervention towards improving important agricultural traits such as yield and stress tolerance

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