Daniel P. Kiehart

Professor of Biology

4330 French Family Science Center, Science Drive, Duke University, Durham, NC 27708-0338
Campus Box: 
Box 90338, Dept. Biology, Duke University, Durham, NC 27708-1000
(919) 613-8157
Our intellectual focus is on identifying determinants of cell shape that function during development. Utilizing molecular genetic and reverse genetic approaches in Drosophila, we have shown that conventional nonmuscle myosin is necessary for driving both cell division and post-mitotic cell shape changes for morphogenesis, and cellular locomotions. Currently, we are investigating how myosin elicits cell shape change and how its function is regulated through filament formation, phosphorylation, sub-cellular targeting and small GTP-binding protein function. We are characterizing myosin light chain kinase; a novel myosin VII heavy chain; and additional elements that participate in localizing myosin and transmitting the forces that it produces. We used screens for aberrant cell shape induced in the yeast S. pombe by expression of transfected Drosophila cDNAs. These experiments show that elements that define cell shape are conserved throughout phylogeny and that a screen in yeast is a valuable tool for recovering heterologous cDNAs that encode cytoskeletal elements and the proteins that regulate them. In fly, we are identifying gene products that are necessary for myosin function by genetically recovering second site non-complementing loci and biochemically recovering proteins that bind to myosin. To date, our experiments identify ~30 loci that genetically interact with myosin and a kinase activity that phosphorylates myosin heavy chain and establish genetically, that the Rho signalling pathway is required in concert with nonmuscle myosin II for morphogenesis. We are also using manipulation studies to understand the forces that drive cellularization and morphogenesis. We show that both the amnioserosa and the leading edge of the lateral epidermis contribute to the movements of dorsal closure. Finally, we are examining the role these proteins play in movements that occur during wound healing.


  • Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania 1979

  • B.A., University of Pennsylvania 1973

Edwards, KA, Demsky, M, Montague, RA, Weymouth, N, and Kiehart, DP. "GFP-moesin illuminates actin cytoskeleton dynamics in living tissue and demonstrates cell shape changes during morphogenesis in Drosophila." Dev Biol 191, no. 1 (November 1, 1997): 103-117. Full Text

Pederson, JD, Kiehart, DP, and Mahaffey, JW. "The role of HOM-C genes in segmental transformations: reexamination of the Drosophila Sex combs reduced embryonic phenotype." Dev Biol 180, no. 1 (November 25, 1996): 131-142. Full Text

Cooper, JA, and Kiehart, DP. "Septins may form a ubiquitous family of cytoskeletal filaments." J Cell Biol 134, no. 6 (September 1996): 1345-1348. (Review)

Edwards, KA, and Kiehart, DP. "Drosophila nonmuscle myosin II has multiple essential roles in imaginal disc and egg chamber morphogenesis." Development 122, no. 5 (May 1996): 1499-1511.

Mansfield, SG, al-Shirawi, DY, Ketchum, AS, Newbern, EC, and Kiehart, DP. "Molecular organization and alternative splicing in zipper, the gene that encodes the Drosophila non-muscle myosin II heavy chain." J Mol Biol 255, no. 1 (January 12, 1996): 98-109.

Edwards, KA, Chang, XJ, and Kiehart, DP. "Essential light chain of Drosophila nonmuscle myosin II." J Muscle Res Cell Motil 16, no. 5 (October 1995): 491-498.

Miller, KG, and Kiehart, DP. "Fly division." J Cell Biol 131, no. 1 (October 1995): 1-5. (Review)

Thomas, GH, and Kiehart, DP. "Beta heavy-spectrin has a restricted tissue and subcellular distribution during Drosophila embryogenesis." Development 120, no. 7 (July 1994): 2039-2050.

Thomas, GH, and Kiehart, DP. "βHavy-spectrin has a restricted tissue and subcellular distribution during Drosophila embryogenesis." Development 120, no. 7 (July 1, 1994): 2039-2050.

Edwards, KA, Montague, RA, Shepard, S, Edgar, BA, Erikson, RL, and Kiehart, DP. "Identification of Drosophila cytoskeletal proteins by induction of abnormal cell shape in fission yeast." Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 91, no. 10 (May 10, 1994): 4589-4593.