Research in the Winkel Lab focuses on understanding the functional organization of metabolism, with the Arabidopsis flavonoid pathway as the experimental model. Over the past three decades, our work has revealed a surprising assembly of the core enzymes around chalcone synthase, the entry point into the pathway, and evidence that flux into terminal branches is controlled by competitive enzyme interactions. We were also the first to describe the presence of flavonoid enzymes in the nucleus, where a novel protein partner for chalcone synthase suggests it could participate in epigenetic control of gene expression.
Our group is currently working on an EAGER project funded by the NSF Systems and Synthetic Biology Program, a collaboration with the Kelly Lab/Center for Structural Oncology at Penn State and the Helm Lab/Mass Spectrometry Incubator at Virginia Tech. This project aims to develop novel cyro-EM-based and advanced proteomics technologies to visualize and characterize large dynamic complexes in plants. We also have a new collaboration with the Kojima Lab at Virginia Tech exploring evidence that flavonoids influence the plant circadian clock.
We recently completed an NSF Arabidopsis 2010-funded project with the Helm Lab/MSI and with the Muday and Fetrow groups at Wake Forest to develop a systems-level understanding of the auxin and ethylene response in seedling roots.
The Winkel Lab maintained a 22 year-long partnership with the Brewer group in Virginia Tech’s Department of Chemistry on developing novel multimetallic anti-cancer agents. This work was recognized with a Breakthrough Award from Popular Mechanics in 2010. Karen Brewer was lost to us in 2014, but her legacy is carried forward by her many students, colleagues, and friends.
Supported by the National Science Foundation for 28 years