Living organisms can initiate appropriate physiological responses in response to a variety of environmental signals. In many cases, multiple signals are transmitted via a common signaling component or pathway. However it is not clear how cells distinguish and interpret different signals and elicit specific responses.
My long-term interest is to understand how the information about the intensity and identity of external signals are encoded and transmitted inside a cell and eventually decoded to induce specific gene expression responses. To address this question, I study the yeast general stress response transcription factor Msn2. Msn2 and its partially redundant homolog Msn4 respond to many environmental stresses and regulate expression of hundreds of target genes. Under normal condition, Msn2 is phosphorylated and stays in cytoplasm. Upon stress stimulation, Msn2 is rapidly dephosphorylated and enters nucleus.
In particular I am interested in investigating (1) how a variety of unrelated stresses are encoded, integrated and transmitted through a single transcription factor Msn2; (2) whether and/or how multisite phosphorylation of Msn2 specify and integrate multiple stresses; (3) how the information carried by Msn2 are decoded to generate specific gene expression. I will perform single-cell imaging analysis, quantitative proteomics and genomics analysis, in combination with computation modeling to elucidate the information processing of Msn2 signaling.