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Research Interests

  • Signal Perception and the Regulation of Growth and Development

Research Synopsis

The Jones lab is interested in heterotrimeric G protein-coupled signaling and uses genetic model systems to dissect signaling networks. The G-protein complex serves as the nexus between cell surface receptors and various downstream enzymes that ultimately alter cell behavior. Metazoans have a hopelessly complex repertoire of G-protein complexes and cell surface receptors so we turned to the reference plant, Arabidopsis thaliana, and the yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, as our models because these two organisms have only two potential G protein complexes and few cell surface receptors. Their simplicity and the ability to genetically “knock out” or “knock up” the expression of genes in these organisms make them powerful tools. At present, we are most interested in novel signaling networks that are used for sensing sugars and other networks used to sense extracellular nucleotides. Our work shows the great plasticity of the activation mechanism in eukaryotic cells.  We work closely with several other labs in the Dept. of Pharmacology and use a variety of cell biology approaches, including sophisticated imaging techniques, 3-D protein structure analyses, forward and reverse genetic approaches, biochemistries, and mathematical modeling.

Alan Jones