Dr. Imara Perera

Research Associate Professor

Inositol phosphate metabolism, plant nutrient and energy sensing, plant stress responses

Research Interests:

The overarching goal of my research is to understand the molecular mechanisms governing plant responses to environmental stimuli and stress; in particular the involvement of the phosphoinositide signaling pathway.  The membrane associated inositol phospholipids and soluble inositol phosphates provide a means of both intercepting a signal at the membrane and propagating it within the cell. Our current focus is on inositol pyrophosphates, a novel class of signaling molecules. Our hypothesis is that these molecules are involved in energy and nutrient sensing in plants and we are taking a multifaceted approach of molecular genetics, biochemistry, physiology, and systems biology to address this hypothesis as well as understand the global regulation of the pathway.

Another avenue of research in the lab is to characterize seedling responses to microgravity and the spaceflight environment. Our first flight experiment “Plant Signaling in Microgravity” was a comparative study of transcriptional profiles of wild type and transgenic Arabidopsis seedlings (altered in phosphoinositide-mediated signaling), grown on the International Space Station (ISS).   In a second flight experiment “Plant RNA Regulation” we will extend this work to other aspects of gene regulation including changes in small RNAs.  Plants will be an integral part of long distance space travel or habitation. An understanding of how plants respond to the spaceflight environment is an important step towards enabling them to withstand stresses and optimize their growth.

Selected Publications:

Desai M, Rangarajan P, Donahue JL, Williams SP, Land ES, Mandal MK, Phillippy BQ, Perera IY, Raboy V, Gillaspy GE. Two inositol hexakisphosphate kinases drive inositol pyrophosphate synthesis in plants. Plant J. 2014 Nov;80(4):642-53. doi: 10.1111/tpj.12669.

Hung CY, Aspesi P Jr, Hunter MR, Lomax AW, Perera IY. Phosphoinositide-signaling is one component of a robust plant defense response. Front Plant Sci. 2014 Jun 11;5:267. doi: 10.3389/fpls.2014.00267

Ischebeck T, Werner S, Krishnamoorthy P, Lerche J, Meijón M, Stenzel I, Löfke C, Wiessner T, Im YJ, Perera IY, Iven T, Feussner I, Busch W, Boss WF, Teichmann T, Hause B, Persson S, Heilmann I. Phosphatidylinositol 4,5-Bisphosphate Influences PIN Polarization by Controlling Clathrin-Mediated Membrane Trafficking in Arabidopsis. Plant Cell. 2013

Salinas-Mondragon RE, Kajla JD, Perera IY, Brown CS and HW Sederoff (2010) Role of inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate signaling in gravitropic and phototropic gene expression. Plant cell Envrion 33: 2041-55

Khodakovskaya M, Sword C, Wu Q, Perera IY, Boss WF, Brown CS and H Winter Sederoff (2010).  Increasing inositol (1, 4, 5)-trisphosphate metabolism affects drought tolerance, carbohydrate metabolism, and phosphate-sensitive biomass increases in tomato. Plant Biotechnology Journal 8:170-183

Ma X, Shor O, Diminstein S,  Yu L, Im YJ, Perera IY,  Lomax A,  Boss WF and N Moran (2009) Phosphatidylinositol (4,5)-bisphosphate inhibits K+-efflux channel activity in NT1 tobacco cultured cells. Plant Physiology 149:1127-1140

Perera IY, Hung CY, Moore CD, Stevenson-Paulik JM and WF Boss (2008) Transgenic Arabidopsis Plants Expressing the Type I Inositol 5-phosphatase Exhibit Increased Drought Tolerance and Altered Abscisic Acid Signaling. Plant Cell 20: 2876-2893

Im YJ, Perera IY, Brglez I, Davis AJ, Stevenson-Paulik, JM, Phillippy BQ, Johannes E, Allen NS and WF Boss (2007)  Increasing Plasma Membrane Phosphatidylinositol(4,5)Bisphosphate Biosynthesis Increases Phosphoinositide Metabolism in Nicotiana tabacum. Plant Cell 19: 1603-1616

Im YJ, Davis AJ, Perera IY, Johannes E, Allen NS and WF Boss (2007) The N-terminal membrane occupation and recognition nexus domain of Arabidopsis phosphatidylinositol phosphate kinase 1 regulates enzyme activity. J. Biological Chemistry. 282: 5443-5452

Perera IY, Hung CY, Brady S, Muday GK and WF Boss (2006) A universal role for inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate-mediated signaling in plant gravitropism. Plant Physiol. 140: 746-760

Perera IY, Davis AJ, Galanopoulou D, Im YJ and WF Boss phosphate kinases.FEBS Lett. 579:3427-32.

Padmanaban S, Lin X, Perera IY, Kawamura Y, and H Sze (2004) Differential expression of Vacuolar H+-ATPase subunit c genes in tissues active in membrane trafficking and their roles in plant growth as revealed by RNAi. Plant Physiol. 134: 1514-1526

Davis AJ, Perera IY and WF BOss (2004) Cyclodextrins enhance recombinant phosphatidylinositol phosphate kinase activity. J. Lipid Res 45:1783-1789

Perera IY, Love J, Heilmann I, Thompson WF and WF Boss (2002) Up-regulation of phosphoinositide metabolism in tobacco cells constitutively expressing the human type I inositol polyphosphate 5-phosphatase Plant Physiol 129:1795-1806

Perera IY, Heilmann I, Chang SC, Boss WF, Kaufman BO (2001) A role for inositol 1,4,5- trisphosphate in gravitropic signaling and the retention of cold-perceived gravistimulation of oat (Avena sativa) shoot pulvini. Plant Physiol 125: 1449-1507

Heilmann I, Shin J, Huang J, Perera IY, Davies E. (2001) Transient dissociation of polyribosomes and concurrent recruitment of calreticulin and calmodulin transcripts in gravistimulated maize pulvini. Plant Physiol 127:1193-203

Heilmann I, Perera IY, Gross W and WF Boss (2001) Plasma membrane phosphatidylinositol 4,5-bisphosphate levels decrease with time in culture. Plant Physiol 126: 1507-1518