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Elena Shpak

Contact Info

Elena Shpak
Associate Professor, BCMB

Office: Mossman 413 (865-974-8383)
Lab: Mossman 420F
Lab Webpage

Ph.D. Ohio University, Athens

Research Statement

Multicellular organisms require sophisticated signaling pathways to enable cellular cooperation. In both plants and animals a small number of core signaling pathways are repeatedly used to regulate different aspects of morphshpak_researchogenesis. The research focus of my lab is regulation of cell-to-cell communications mediated by the ERECTA family of genes (ERfs). This family first appeared in early land plants and since then has evolved to regulate multiple aspects of plant development such as stomata formation, longitudinal growth of aboveground organs, development of flowers, and functioning of the shoot apical meristem. In the meristem ERfs contribute to size regulation, to efficient leaf initiation, and to establishment of phyllotaxy. ERfs are plasma membrane localized receptor-like kinases that sense secreted cysteine-rich peptides from the EPF/EPFL family and transmit the signal through a MAP kinase cascade. Our current goals are to fully decipher the molecular mechanism of ERfs signal transduction and to further explore ERf role in the shoot apical meristem and leaf initiation. We mostly study ERfs in the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana and use a wide variety of methods, from study of whole plant morphology and cell biology to molecular biology, genetics, and biochemistry.

Selected Publications

• Zhang, L., DeGennaro, D., Lin, G., Chai, J., & Shpak, E. D. (2021). ERECTA family signaling constrains CLAVATA3 and WUSCHEL to the center of the shoot apical meristem. Development, 148(5), 10 pages.
• Liu Z, Shpak ED, and Hong T (2020) A mathematical model for understanding synergistic regulations and paradoxical feedbacks in the shoot apical meristem. Comput Struct Biotechnol J, 18:3877-3889
• Kosentka PZ, Overholt A, Maradiaga R, Mitoubsi O, Shpak ED. (2019) EPFL Signals in the Boundary Region of the SAM Restrict Its Size and Promote Leaf Initiation. Plant Physiol. 179:265-279
• Lin G, Zhang L, Han Z, Yang X, Liu W, Li E, Chang J, Qi Y, Shpak ED and Chai J. A (2017) Receptor-like Protein Acts as a Specificity Switch for Regulation of Stomatal Development. Genes Dev. 31:927-938
• Kosentka PZ, Zhang L, Simon YA, Satpathy B, Maradiaga R, Mitoubsi O, Shpak ED. (2017) Identification of critical functional residues of receptor-like kinase ERECTA. J. Exp Bot. 68:1507-1518
• Bundy M.G.R., Kosentka P.Z., Willet A.H., Zhang L., Miller E.J., and Shpak E. D. (2016) A mutation in the catalytic subunit of the glycosylphosphatidylinositol transamidase disrupts growth, fertility, and stomata formation in Arabidopsis. Plant Physiol. 171:974-85
• Chen M.-K. and Shpak E.D. (2014) ERECTA family genes regulate development of cotyledons during embryogenesis. FEBS Letters, 588, 3912-3917
• Chen M.-K., Wilson R., Palme K, Ditengou FA, and Shpak E.D. (2013) ERECTA family genes regulate auxin transport in the shoot apical meristem and forming leaf primordia. Plant Physiol., 162: 1978-1991.
• Shpak E.D. (2013) Diverse roles of ERECTA family genes in plant development. J Integr Plant Biol. 55:1238-1250.
• Bundy M.G.R., Thompson O.A., Sieger M.T., and Shpak E.D. (2012) Patterns of cell division, cell differentiation and cell elongation in epidermis and cortex of Arabidopsis pedicels in the wild type and in erecta. PLoS ONE 7(9): e4626.
• Kong D., Karve R., Willet A., Chen M.K., Oden J., and Shpak E.D. (2012) Regulation of plasmodesmatal permeability and stomatal patterning by a glycosyltransferase-like protein KOBITO1. Plant Physiol., 159(1) p156-168.