Meng Chen, Assistant Professor  

Meng Chen

How developmental programs of higher eukaryotes are regulated by environmental cues is a fundamental question in developmental biology. Our lab uses the light-dependent plant seedling development (or photomorphogenesis) as the model system to address this question. In particular, we focus on early signaling mechanisms of phytochromes, a family of red/far-red photoreceptors. We use Arabidopsis thaliana as the model species and complementary genetic, cell biological, biochemical, and genomic approaches.

Postdoctoral Fellow, The Salk Institute, 2007
Ph.D., Iowa State University, 1999
B.S., Iowa State University, 1994
M.S., Iowa State University, 1994
FR/SO, Biochemistry, NanKai University (China), 1989

Office Location: 4204
Office Phone: (919) 684-8442
Email Address:
Web Page:

Cell and Molecular Biology
Developmental Biology

Research Categories: Light signaling and nuclear organization in plants

Research Description: Plant growth and development are extremely plastic in response to changes in the environmental light cues. Our laboratory uses Arabidopsis thaliana, an ideal genetic model species, and a combination of genetics, cell biology, and biochemistry to investigate signaling mechanisms by which light controls transcription in plants. We have pioneered the development of light-regulated nuclear dynamic events as experimental models to elucidate signaling mechanisms by a red and far-red photoreceptor, phytochrome B (phyB). Our research focuses on two phyB-regulated nuclear dynamic events: (1) Function and regulatory mechanisms of a light-regulated and phyB-containing subnculear domain - the photobody; (2) Mechanisms of repositioning of light responsive genes by phytochrome signaling. Our investigation of photobodies has uncovered previously uncharacterized phytochrome signaling molecules and mechanisms. Our discovery of the light-regulated repositioning of the CAB1 locus to the nuclear periphery provides the initial evidence for the biological importance of gene positioning in the plant kingdom. These breakthroughs have opened new avenues to understand mechanisms of light signaling and nuclear organization in plants.

Recent Publications   (More Publications)   (search)

  1. EK Van Buskirk, AK Reddy, A Nagatani, M Chen, Photobody Localization of Phytochrome B Is Tightly Correlated with Prolonged and Light-Dependent Inhibition of Hypocotyl Elongation in the Dark., Plant physiology, vol. 165 no. 2 (April 25, 2014), pp. 595-607 [doi]  [abs].
  2. Feng, C.-M., Qiu, Y., Van Buskirk, E.K., Yang, E.J., Chen, M., Light-regulated gene repositioning in Arabidopsis, Nat Commun, vol. 5:3027 (January 6, 2014), pp. doi: 10.1038/ncomms4027 .
  3. RM Galv√£o, M Li, SM Kothadia, JD Haskel, PV Decker, EK Van Buskirk, M Chen, Photoactivated phytochromes interact with HEMERA and promote its accumulation to establish photomorphogenesis in Arabidopsis., Genes Dev, vol. 26 no. 16 (August, 2012), pp. 1851-1863 [22895253], [doi]  [abs].
  4. EK Van Buskirk, PV Decker, M Chen, Photobodies in light signaling., Plant Physiol, vol. 158 no. 1 (January, 2012), pp. 52-60 [21951469], [doi]  [abs].
  5. M Chen, J Chory, Phytochrome signaling mechanisms and the control of plant development., Trends Cell Biol, vol. 21 no. 11 (November, 2011), pp. 664-671 [21852137], [doi]  [abs].