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Alice Cheung


My laboratory has a long-standing effort in understanding signaling transduction mechanisms in plants, in particular how they pertain to mediating male-female interactions that underlie successful plant sexual reproduction. During fertilization in flowering plants (angiosperms), the precise delivery of immotile sperm cells to the egg apparatus is a fascinating biological process requiring complex cell-to-cell communication events between the sperm cell carrier (pollen tube) and the female reproductive tissues. While these processes are highly specialized, distinct from most biological processes in plants and animal reproduction, many aspects of their signal transduction pathways are conserved in their overarching themes. Therefore, we also have a major interest in advancing the understanding of signaling mechanisms that govern plant growth, development and how they cope with the environment. These two areas of our research often synergistically enhance each other facilitating depth in our investigation. Growth, the ability to produce seeds and to cope with environmental adversity ultimately underlie plant productivity. Though with a focus on advancing mechanistic understanding of fundamental processes, our work is increasingly intertwined with investigations in areas directly impacting agricultural problems such as how plant cope with environmental stresses during growth and they discriminate between self and non-self during reproduction to ensure hybrid vigor or overcome reproductive barriers to generate diversity.

Current Research

Our current research is focus on a family of receptor kinases in the model plant Arabidopsis members of which are broadly functional in diverse plant processes, some critical for reproductive success, others underlie environmental stress-induced responses, such as those inflicted by adverse soil conditions, temperatures or pathogens. We rely on genetic, transgenic, biochemical, molecular and cell biological approaches that are well established in our lab. We also often explore and incorporate new approaches as our research requires or will benefit from them. We anticipate an active phase where we explore biophysical approaches to advance our research from a structural perspective.

Academic Background

Ph.D., Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry, Yale University, New Haven, CT
Postdoc., Molecular and Cellular Biology, Plant Molecular Biology, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA

Mass spectrometry reveals a multi-faceted role of glycosaminoglycan chains in factor Xa inactivation by antithrombin. Minsky BB, Abzalimov RR, Niu C, Zhao Y, Kirsch Z, Dubin PL, Savinov SN, Kaltashov IA. Biochemistry. 2018 Jul 12. doi: 10.1021/acs.biochem.8b00199. [Epub ahead of print]
Integration of On-Column Chemical Reactions in Protein Characterization by Liquid Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry: Cross-Path Reactive Chromatography. Pawlowski JW, Carrick I, Kaltashov IA. Anal Chem. 2018 Jan 16;90(2):1348-1355. doi: 10.1021/acs.analchem.7b04328. Epub 2018 Jan 2.
Electrostatic Forces as Dominant Interactions Between Proteins and Polyanions: an ESI MS Study of Fibroblast Growth Factor Binding to Heparin Oligomers. Minsky BB, Dubin PL, Kaltashov IA. J Am Soc Mass Spectrom. 2017 Apr;28(4):758-767. doi: 10.1007/s13361-017-1596-0. Epub 2017 Feb 16.
Garcia-Valencia, L.E., Bravo-Alberto, C.E., Wu, H-M., Rodriguez-Sotres R., Cheung, A.Y., Cruz-Garcia F. (2017) NaSIPP, a novel mitochondrial phosphate carrier mediates self-incompatibility in Nicotiana. [Accepted, Plant Physiology].
Ge, Z., Bergonci, T., Yuling Zhao, Y., Zou, Y., Du, S., Ming-Che Liu, M-C., Luo, X., Ruan, H., García-Valencia, L., Zhong, S., Hou, S., Huang, Q., Lai, L., Moura, D.S., Gu, H., Dong, J., Wu, H-M., Dresselhaus, T., Xiao, J., Cheung, A.Y.@, Qu,, L-J. (2017) Pollen tube integrity and sperm release in Arabidopsis is regulated by RALF-mediated autocrine and paracrine signaling. Science 358, 1596-1600. Accompanied by a Perspective: Complex regulation of plant sex by peptides Science 358, 6370.
Feng, W., Kita, D., Wu, H-M., Peaucelle, A., Maman, J., Duan, Q-h., Steinhorst, L.chmitz-Thom, I., Cartwright, H.N., Kudla, J., Cheung, A.Y.@, Dinneny, J.D. (2017) The FERONIA receptor kinase maintains cell integrity during salt stress through Ca2+ signaling. Current Biology 28, 665-675. Accompanied by a Dispatch: Plant Physiology: FERONIA defends the Cell Walls against corrosion. R205-R231
Liu, Y., Dong, Q., Kita D., Liu G., Wu, X., Zhu, X.**, Cheung, A.Y., Wu, H-M. Tao, L-z. (2017) RopGEF1 plays a critical role in polar auxin transport in early Arabidopsis development. [Accepted, Plant Physiology].
Padmanaban, S., Czerny, D.D., Levin, K., Leydon, R.R., Su, R.T., Maugel, T.K., Zou, Y-J, Chanroj, S., Cheung, A.Y., Johnson, M.A., Heven, Sze H. (2017) Transporters involved in pH and K+ homeostasis affect pollen wall formation, male fertility and embryo development. J. Exp. Bot. doi:10.1093/jxb/erw483
Contact Info

Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Lederle Graduate Tower, Rm 1224
710 North Pleasant Street
Amherst, MA 01003-9292

(413) 545-4027