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Laura Olsen

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Primary Appointment: LSA Molec./Cell./Develop. Bio
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  Olsen lab research currently focuses on several areas of cell biology. Peroxisomes are small organelles present in all eukaryotes. We use a combination of techniques to investigate the mechanisms of protein transport into peroxisomes. In addition to being an intrinsically interesting basic biological problem, an understanding of protein trafficking in cells is critical as we design strategies to genetically engineer crop plants. Another project in the lab is the study of study of peroxisomal protein networks, using bioinformatics and proteomics to identify and analyze the function of peroxisomal proteins. In collaboration with Drs. Jianping Hu (from Michigan State University), we are developing a comprehensive model for plant peroxisome function. Most recently, we have begun to investigate the process of autophagy in plants. Little is known about the molecular and biochemical components involved in plant cell responses to abiotic stresses that induce autophagy in yeast or mammalian cells. Homologs to many autophagy genes exist in the model plant Arabidopsis, but their role in plant autophagy has not been established. Thus, we have begun to examine the induction and functional expression of these proteins in response to environmental stresses.