The Li lab is using Arabidopsis as a genetic model organism to investigate the molecular mechanism of plant steroid signaling.
Both animals and plants use steroids as signaling molecules to regulate a variety of growth and developmental processes, however, their signaling mechanisms are quite different. While animal steroids are mainly recognized by intracellular steroid receptors that provide a fast track for the chemical signals to move into the nucleus for controlling gene activities, plants steroids are perceived by a transmembrane receptor kinase that initiates a phosphorylation-mediated signal transduction pathway. For the last several years, my lab, along with several other plant steroid research groups, has identified several key regulators of the plant steroid signaling using Arabidopsis as our genetic model system.
Currently, we are taking a combinatory approach of biochemistry, molecular biology, genetics, and chemical genetics to uncover additional components of the plant steroid signal transduction pathway and to study detailed biochemical mechanisms of each individual signaling components for transducing the steroid signal from the cell surface to the nucleus.