R. Bruce Nicklas

Arthur S. Pearse Professor Emeritus of Biology

Office: 
371E Biological Sciences Bldg., Durham, NC 27708
Campus Box: 
91000
Phone: 
(919) 613-8196

Research Interests: 

I am now retired and my lab is closed. In the past, we pushed chromosomes around by micromanipulation to learn more about chromosome movement in mitosis. We tugged on chromosomes to measure the forces produced by the spindle and chopped spindles apart to locate the motor for chromosome movement. Most recently we pulled on chromosomes to learn to connect cell mechanics with the molecular biology of a cell cycle checkpoint. The checkpoint monitors chromosome attachment to the spindle and helps ensure that the daughter cells get the right chromosomes. Pulling on chromosomes alters the phosphorylation of chromosomal proteins and it causes certain proteins to fall off the chromosome. These changes tell the cell that it is safe to divide. We wanted to understand how mechanical tension, whether from a micromanipulator's needle or from normal mitotic forces, leads to chemical changes in chromosomes and how those changes lead to proper cell division. I have also been interested in evolution, in particular the evolution of mitosis and the role of accidents as well as selection in the origin of species. I no longer serve as an advisor for undergraduate or graduate student research.

I am now retired and my lab is closed. In the past, we pushed chromosomes around by micromanipulation to learn more about chromosome movement in mitosis. We tugged on chromosomes to measure the forces produced by the spindle and chopped spindles apart to locate the motor for chromosome movement. Most recently we pulled on chromosomes to learn to connect cell mechanics with the molecular biology of a cell cycle checkpoint. The checkpoint monitors chromosome attachment to the spindle and helps ensure that the daughter cells get the right chromosomes. Pulling on chromosomes alters the phosphorylation of chromosomal proteins and it causes certain proteins to fall off the chromosome. These changes tell the cell that it is safe to divide. We wanted to understand how mechanical tension, whether from a micromanipulator's needle or from normal mitotic forces, leads to chemical changes in chromosomes and how those changes lead to proper cell division. I have also been interested in evolution, in particular the evolution of mitosis and the role of accidents as well as selection in the origin of species. I no longer serve as an advisor for undergraduate or graduate student research.

Education

  • Ph.D. 1958, Columbia University

  • M.A. 1956, Columbia University

  • B.A. 1954, Bowling Green State University

Papers Published

Kinetochore rearrangement in meiosis II requires attachment to the spindle., 2005
Paliulis, LV; Nicklas, RB, Chromosoma. (2005) 113 vol. (8); pp. 440-446

Checkpoint signals in grasshopper meiosis are sensitive to microtubule attachment, but tension is still essential., 12, 2001
Nicklas, RB; Waters, JC; Salmon, ED; Ward, SC, Journal of cell science. 114 vol. (Pt 23); pp. 4173-4183

Tension on chromosomes increases the number of kinetochore microtubules but only within limits., 11, 2000
King, JM; Nicklas, RB, Journal of cell science. 113 Pt 21 pp. 3815-3823

The reduction of chromosome number in meiosis is determined by properties built into the chromosomes, 0, 2000
Paliulis, L.V. and R.B. Nicklas, Journal of Cell Biology. 150 pp. 1223-1231

Dynein is a transient kinetochore component whose binding is regulated by microtubule attachment, not tension, 0, 2000
King, J.M., T.S. Hays and R.B. Nicklas, Journal of Cell Biology. 151 pp. 739-748

How cells get the right chromosomes., 1997
Nicklas, RB, Science. (1997) 275 vol. (5300); pp. 632-637

How cells get the right chromosomes, 1997
R.B. Nicklas, Science. (1997) 274 pp. 632-637