The cysteine-rich receptor-like kinases (CRKs)
The CRKs and the related cysteine-rich receptor-like proteins (CRPs) are groups of receptor-proteins that have undergone drastic expansion in higher plants. We are analyzing the biochemical and physiological roles of the CRKs as well as their molecular function. The work was initiated in the ERA-PG consortium "PROSIG". The consortium has created a comprehensive knockout collection for all CRKs. Now, on this foundation we are busy understanding the molecular biology and biochemistry of the CRKs.
Gene family expansion in plants
We are interested in the underlying reasons for gene family expansions in plants. In the most general sense we are asking why many gene families in higher plants have expanded considerably compared to animals and other organisms. With this idea in mind we are trying to understand the evolution of CRKs and CRPs and whether we can use evolutionary analysis to get clues about their biochemical roles.
Ligand and receptor biology
We use a secreted protein, GRIM REAPER (GRI), and its receptor as model system to investigate the molecular biology of peptide ligands and receptors. GRI is processed by proteases and the resulting peptide is perceived by a receptor-like kinase. GRI is an interesting protein that can induce cell death but also seems to play roles in various developmental aspects.
We are supported by the University of Helsinki, the Doctoral Programme in Plant Science (DPPS) and the Academy of Finland. We are also a member of the Centre of Excellence in the Molecular Biology of Primary Producers (funded by the Academy of Finland) and the Viikki Plant Science Centre (ViPS). We are also collaborating with a large number of groups all over the world.