Supported by the NSF MCB Program


The plant hormone abscisic acid (ABA) modulates a wide spectrum of responses, including gene activation and repression, guard cell closure, cell cycle blockage, and photosynthesis inhibition, under multiple environmental stress conditions such as drought, cold, and salinity. ABA also plays a pivotal role in the developmental program of seed maturation, desiccation, dormancy, and germination.


Our lab is interested in the molecular mechanisms underlying ABA perception and signal transduction from the receptors to the target genes. We have established that isolated mesophyll protoplasts from both maize and Arabidopsis respond to ABA and various stress signals as in intact leaves, thus providing a simple but powerful system to dissect the ABA and stress signal transduction pathways. Although calcium has been implicated as a second messenger in ABA and multiple stress signaling, the calcium sensor and downstream regulatory components have not been identified. We have used the maize and Arabidopsis mesophyll protoplasts to show that specific calcium-dependent protein kinases (CDPKs) are positive regulators, whereas multiple protein phosphatases C (PP2Cs) are negative regulators in ABA and stress signaling. Our system offers powerful tools to complement the classical genetic and molecular approaches in dissecting the ABA and stress signal transduction pathways, especially when redundant functions are involved. We are also actively using the protoplast transient expression systems to perform functional genomic and proteomic analyses of CDPK genes in Arabidopsis. Our studies have generated molecular tools to improve crop plant tolerance to multiple environmental stress conditions.


Signaling Pathway Illustrations

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powerpoint presentation

Plant signaling


Boudsocq, M. and Sheen, J. 2010. Calcium Sensing and Signaling. In: Abiotic Stress Adaptation in Plants: Physiological, Molecular and Genomic Foundation (A.Pareek, S.K. Sopory, H.J. Bohnert, Govindjee, eds). Springer, Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Springer, pp.75-90 PDF

Baena-González, E., Rolland, F., and Sheen, J. 2008. KIN10/11 are master regulators of the convergent stress transcriptome. In: Photosynthesis. Energy from the Sun: 14th International Congress on Photosynthesis (J.F. Allen, E. Gantt, J.H. Golbeck & B. Osmond, eds.), Springer, New York, NY, pp. 1337-1344. PDF

Baena-González and Sheen, J. 2008. Convergent energy and stress signaling. Trends in Plant Science 13: 474-482 PDF

Ramon, M., Rolland, F., and Sheen, J.October 22, 2008 Sugar Sensing and Signaling. The Arabidopsis Book (TAB), ISSN: 1543-8120   pages 1-22 PDF

Rolland, F., Gonzalez, E.B., and Sheen, J. 2006. Sugar Sensing and Signaling in Plants: Conserved and Novel Mechanisms. Annual Review of Plant Biology Volume 57: 676-709 PDF

Leon, P. and Sheen, J. 2002. Sugar and hormone connections. Trends in Plant Science. in preparation

Cheng, S.-H., Willmann, M. R., Chen, H.-C. and Sheen. J. 2002. Calcium Signaling through Protein Kinases: The Arabidopsis Calcium-Dependent Protein Kinase Gene Family. Plant Physiol. 129: 469-485

Sheen, J. 2001. Signal transduction in maize and Arabidopsis mesophyll protoplasts. Plant Physiol. 127:1466-1475. PDF


Cho, Y.H., Sheen, J., and Yoo, S.D. 2010. Low Glucose Uncouples HXK1-dependent Signaling from Stress and Hormone Responses in Arabidopsis. Plant Physiology 152:1180-1182 PDF

Boudsocq, M., Willman, M., McCormack, M., Lee, H., Shan, L., He., P., Bush, J., Cheng, S.H., and Sheen, J. 2010. Differential innate immune signalling via Ca2+ sensor protein kinases. Nature 464:418-423 PDF  SUPP

Li, J.F., Li, L. and Sheen, J. 2010. An economical and rapid DNA purification protocol serving multi-purpose DNA extraction needs in plant research.Plant Methods 6:1-8 PDF

Fujii, H., Chinnusamy, V., Rodrigues, A., Rubio, S., Antoni, R., Park, S.-Y., Cutler, S.R., Sheen, J., Rodriguez, P.L. and Zhu, J.-K. 2009. In vitro reconstitution of an abscisic acid signaling pathway. Nature. 462: 660-664. PDF SUPP

Baena-González, E., Rolland, F., Thevelein, J.M. and Sheen, J. 2007. A central integrator of transcription networks in plant stress and energy signalling. Nature 448: 938-943 PDF SUPP

Shou, H., Bordallo, P., Fan, J.-B. Yeakley, J.M., Bibikova, M., Sheen, J., and Wang, K. 2004. Expression of an active tobacco mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase kinase enhances freezing tolerance in transgenic maize. PNAS 101(9): 3298-3303 PDF

Cheng, W.-H., Endo, A., Zhou, L., Penney, J., Chen, H.-C., Arroyo, A., Leon, P., Nambara, E., Asami, T., Seo, M., Koshiba, T., and Sheen, J. 2002. A Unique Short-Chain Dehydrogenase/Reductase in Arabidopsis Glucose Signaling and Abscisic Acid Biosynthesis and Functions. Plant Cell 14 2723-2743 PDF

Cheng, S.-H., Sheen, J., Gerrish, C., and Bolwell, G.P. 2001. Molecular identification of phenylalanine ammonia-lyaseasa substrate of a specific constitutively active Arabidopsis CDPK expressed in maize protoplasts. FEBS Lett. 503(2-3):185-8.

Arenas-Huertero, F., Arroyo-Becerra, A., Zhou, L, Sheen, J., and León P, 2000. Analysis of Arabidopsis glucose insensitive mutants, gin5 and gin6, reveals a central role of the plant hormone ABA in the regulation of plant vegetative development by sugar. Genes & Dev. 14: 2085-2096.

Sheen, J. 1998. Mutational analysis of two protein phosphatases involved in ABA signal transduction in higher plants. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA. 95:975-980.

Saijo Y, Hatta, S., Sheen, J., and Izui, K. 1997. cDNA cloning and prokaryotic expression of maize calcium-dependent protein kinases. Biochim Biophys Acta. 1350 (2):109-14.

Sheen, J. 1996. Specific Ca2+-dependent protein kinase in stress signal transduction. Science. 274: 1900-1902.