With this International Collaboration in Chemistry (ICC) award, the Chemistry of Life Processes (CLP) Program in the Division of Chemistry is supporting collaborative work by Professor Carey Johnson of the University of Kansas and Professor Bernhard Dick of the University of Regensburg, Germany. This award is through a partnership with the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG), who will support the research in the Dick lab. The international team will carry out fundamental studies on the light-activated signaling process that triggers phototropism, the process by which plants grow towards light. The protein responsible is called PHOT and contains two protein domains called LOV (Light-Oxygen-Voltage) domains. The team will investigate the biochemical steps by which PHOT transmits the signal that initiates phototropism following activation by light. The mechanism appears to involve formation of interacting pairs (dimers) of LOV domains. The interaction of LOV domains will be studied by a range of techniques, including detection of single dimers by fluorescence spectroscopy.
The Broader Impacts of the proposal range from the training of graduate and undergraduate students to a fundamental understanding of signaling in LOV domains, which belong to a broad class of proteins involved in signaling, not only in plants but in the other biological kingdoms as well. Participants in the project will include undergraduate students in the UKanTeach program at the University of Kansas, which trains science majors at KU for high school science teaching.