skip to main content

Jeffrey F. Harper, Ph.D.

Professor and Department Chair

Jeff Harper

Contact Information

  • Email:
  • Phone: (775) 784-1349
  • Office: Howard Medical Sciences 222
  • Mail Stop: 0330


  • Ph.D., Cell and Integrative Biology, Washington University, St. Louis, 1985
  • B.S., Biochemistry and Honors Biology, University of Illinois, Urbana, 1980

Research Interests

  • Plant Biology
  • Calcium Signal Transduction
  • Pollen
  • Temperature and Drought Stress

The Harper lab is interested in how a plant can use as few as 28,000 genes to develop and survive under extreme environmental conditions, such as cold, heat, drought and salt stress. A primary focus is on calcium signaling. The lab employs genetic, cell, bioinformatic, and biochemical approaches, using Arabidopsis and yeast as model systems.

Specific aims are focused on questions of enzyme structure and function for members of the following three gene families:

  • Calcium Dependent Protein Kinases (CDPKs). CDPKs have a unique structure defined by the presence of a calmodulin-like regulatory domain fused to the C-terminal end of the kinase. They are only found in plants and some protist, including the human parasite Plasmodium, the causative agent of malaria.
  • Cyclic Nucleotide Gated Channels (CNGCs). These ion channels have been implicated in calcium signaling and are regulated by both cyclic nucleotides and calmodulin.
  • P-type ATPase Ion Pumps. These ion pumps are used to transport across membranes a wide variety of ions, including H+, Ca2+, Na+, and heavy metals. They are involved in ion homeostasis, nutrient acquisition from the soil, toxic ion efflux, and signal transduction.

Courses Taught

BCH400, Intro to Biochemistry

Selected Publication

  • McDowell, SC, LR Poulsen, RL Lòpez-Marquès2, MG. Palmgren, JF. Harper (2013) Loss of the Arabidopsis thaliana P4ATPase ALA3 Results in Root, Shoot, and Reproductive Phenotypes that are Strongly Dependent upon Growth Conditions PLOS1, 8(5):e62577
  • Tunc-Ozdemir, M, C Tang, MR Ishka, E Brown, N Groves, CT Myers, S McDowell, R Mittler, JF Harper (2013) A cyclic nucleotide-gated channel (CNGC16) in pollen is critical for stress tolerance in pollen reproductive development. Plant Physiology 161: 1010-1020.
  • Tunc-Ozdemir, M., C Rato, E Brown, S Rogers, A Goyne, S Frietsch, CT Myers, LR Poulsen, R Malhó, JF Harper (2013) Cyclic nucleotide gated channels 7 and 8 are essential for male reproductive fertility PLOS1, 8 (2):e55277.
  • Curran, A., I.-F. Chang, C.-L. Chang, S. Garg, R. M. Miguel, Y. D. Barron, Y. Li, S. Romanowsky, J. C. Cushman, M. Gribskov, A. Harmon and J. F. Harper (2011) Calcium-Dependent Protein Kinases from Arabidopsis show substrate specificity differences in an analysis of 103 substrates. Frontiers in Plant Science. 2 : 36
  • Boursiac Y, Lee SM, Romanowsky S, Blank R, Sladek C, Chung WS, Harper JF (2010) Disruption of the vacuolar calcium-ATPases in Arabidopsis results in the activation of a salicylic acid-dependent programmed cell death pathway. Plant Physiol. 154:1158-71.
  • Zinn, KE, M Tunc-Ozdemir, JF Harper (2010) Temperature stress and plant sexual reproduction: uncovering the weakest links. J Exp Bot 61: 1959-1968
  • Myers, CT, SM. Romanowsky, YD Barron, S Garg, CL Azuse, A Curran, RM Davis, J Hatton, A Harmon, and JF.Harper (2009) Calcium-Dependent Protein Kinases Regulate Polarized Tip-Growth in Pollen Tubes. The Plant Journal. 59:528-39
  • Chang, Ing-Feng, Amy Curran, Rebekah Woolsey, David Quilici, John Cushman, Ron Mittler, Alice Harmon, and Jeffrey Harper (2009) Proteomic profiling of tandem affinity purified 14-3-3 protein complexes in Arabidopsis thaliana. Proteomics. 9:2967-85
  • Frietsch, S, Y-F Wang, C Sladek, LR Poulsen, JI Schroeder, and JF Harper (2007) A Cyclic Nucleotide-Gated Channel essential for polarized tip growth of pollen. PNAS 104: 14531-36
  • Schiøtt, M., S. Romanowsky, M. K. Jakobsen, L. Bækgaard, M.G. Palmgren, JF Harper. 2004. A plant plasma membrane Ca2+ pump is required for normal pollen tube growth and fertilization. PNAS 101: 9502-9507

Take the next step...