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In the Laboratory of Plant Molecular Biology (Departament of Genetics, ESALQ/USP) three research areas have been object of study in the last years:


Research in our lab focus on the understanding of the molecular mechanisms involved in the subcellular localization of proteins in plant cells, particularly those imported into mitochondria and chloroplasts. In addition, we are interested in single gene products that are translocated to more than one subcellular compartment. Our major goal is to characterize the regulatory mechanisms involved in protein localization, including evolutionary aspects.

Current work:

  • Characterization of the signal sequence of THI1 protein in Arabidopsis thaliana.
    Contact: Carolina Vianna Morgante
  • Caracterization of the mechanisms of the FtsHs targeting to the thylakoid membranes.
    Contact: Camila Motta Borgonove
  • Identification and characterization of proteins that interact with the Arabidopsis thaliana protein THI1 via yeast two-hybrid system.
    Contact: Christine Stock
  • Regulation of dual-targeting proteins in Arabidopsis thaliana .
    Contact: Daniele Cristine de Lima Bononi
  • Deciphering the molecular mechanisms involved in the subcellular localisation of FtsH proteases to the thylakoid membranes.
    Contact: Ricardo Augusto de Oliveira Rodrigues
  • Comparative analysis on the evolution of dual-targeted proteins in Arabidopsis thaliana and Oryza sativa
    Contato: Marcelo Mendes Brandão


    In this aspect, we have been studying the mechanisms of plant defense against insect herbivores. We have done a bioinformatic work by using the information of the Sugarcane Transcriptome Project (SUCEST) in which we identified several signaling pathways related to insect attack by comparison with mechanisms reported to another plant species. Besides, we are studying the expression of sugarcane genes induced by the sugarcane borer (Diatraea saccharalis) by macroarrays. On the other hand, we have a great interest in the understanding and characterization of insect adaptation mechanisms in response to plant defense strategies. Our approach consists on the use of biochemical, entomological and molecular analyses to figure out how do insects adapt to plant proteinase inhibitors. Thus, we have been characterizing the insect midgut proteinases and tested its susceptibility to different proteinase inhibitors using in "vitro" and "in vivo" assays (by its incorporation into artificial diets).

    Current work:

  • Large scale study of sugarcane gene expression profiling in response to different stresses using DNA macroarrays.
    Contact: Ane Hackbart de Medeiros
  • Characterization of the adaptative mechanism of Spodoptera frugiperda to plant proteinase inhibitors.
    Contact: Larissa Cristina Deppmann Nadalini
  • Characterization of cotton pests adaptative mechanisms: an evolutive and molecular approach
    Contact: Lígia Hansen Arruda

  • 3 - PLANT PEPTIDE HORMONES (Principal investigator: Dr. Daniel Scherer de Moura)

    Until the early 1990s small peptides as signaling molecules were only known to exist in animals and yeast. Plant peptides hormones were overlooked until the nature of the compound responsible for the systemic wound response in tomato plants was revealed (Science 253, 895). Since then, more than 10 new peptide hormones, with a diverse array of functions in plants, have been discovered (Plant Cell 14, S251). Our research on plant peptide hormones focus on one of the recently found peptides, the Rapid Alkalinization Factor (RALF) (PNAS 98, 12843) and on the finding of new peptides in the economically important crop sugarcane. RALF was first isolated from tobacco leaves using the alkalinization assay and tobacco cell suspension cultures. Homologs to RALF peptide and its precursor have been identified in more than 20 plant species representing 9 different families. We use Arabidopsis as a model to study RALF. Our major goal is to unravel the mechanism of action for RALF and to define, precisely, its physiological role in plants.

    Current work:

  • Identification and characterization of signal transduction pathway components of the peptide hormone RALF in Arabidopsis thaliana .
    Contact: Celso Spada Fiori
  • Heterologous expression of the peptide hormone RALF in Escherichia coli and study of preproRALF processing in Saccharomyces cerevisiae.
    Contact: Juliana L. Matos
  • Localization and expression study of RALF family genes in Arabidopsis thaliana using uidA (GUS) reporter gene fusions.
    Contato: Fabiana Bombonato Mingossi

  • Department of Genetics, ESALQ/USP - Av. Pádua Dias, 11 - C.P. 83 - CEP 13400 - 970 Piracicaba, SP - BRAZIL
    Phone: 55 19 3429-4442; 3429-4125 - Fax: 55 19 3433-6706 -
    Created: August, 2000 - Last modified: 31/Aug/2007 Made by: Patricia Pompermayer | Umberto A. Sesso Filho | Computer sector