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

Franke, Josef D., Ruth A. Montague, and Daniel P. Kiehart. “Nonmuscle myosin II is required for cell proliferation, cell sheet adhesion and wing hair morphology during wing morphogenesis..” Developmental Biology 345, no. 2 (September 2010): 117–32. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ydbio.2010.06.028. Full Text

Layton, Anita T., Yusuke Toyama, Guo-Qiang Yang, Glenn S. Edwards, Daniel P. Kiehart, and Stephanos Venakides. “Drosophila morphogenesis: tissue force laws and the modeling of dorsal closure..” Hfsp Journal 3, no. 6 (December 15, 2009): 441–60. https://doi.org/10.2976/1.3266062. Full Text

Toyama, Yusuke, Xomalin G. Peralta, Adrienne R. Wells, Daniel P. Kiehart, and Glenn S. Edwards. “Apoptotic force and tissue dynamics during Drosophila embryogenesis..” Science (New York, N.Y.) 321, no. 5896 (September 2008): 1683–86. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.1157052. Full Text

Rodriguez-Diaz, Alice, Yusuke Toyama, Daniel L. Abravanel, John M. Wiemann, Adrienne R. Wells, U Serdar Tulu, Glenn S. Edwards, and Daniel P. Kiehart. “Actomyosin purse strings: renewable resources that make morphogenesis robust and resilient..” Hfsp Journal 2, no. 4 (August 2008): 220–37. https://doi.org/10.2976/1.2955565. Full Text

Todi, Sokol V., Elena Sivan-Loukianova, Julie S. Jacobs, Daniel P. Kiehart, and Daniel F. Eberl. “Myosin VIIA, important for human auditory function, is necessary for Drosophila auditory organ development..” Plos One 3, no. 5 (May 7, 2008). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0002115. Full Text Open Access Copy

Peralta, X. G., Y. Toyama, D. P. Kiehart, and G. S. Edwards. “Emergent properties during dorsal closure in Drosophila morphogenesis..” Physical Biology 5, no. 1 (April 10, 2008). https://doi.org/10.1088/1478-3975/5/1/015004. Full Text

Peralta, X. G., Y. Toyama, D. P. Kiehart, and G. S. Edwards. “Emergent properties during dorsal closure in Drosophila morphogenesis..” Physical Biology 5, no. 1 (2008).

Franke, Josef D., Ruth A. Montague, Wayne L. Rickoll, and Daniel P. Kiehart. “An MYH9 human disease model in flies: site-directed mutagenesis of the Drosophila non-muscle myosin II results in hypomorphic alleles with dominant character..” Human Molecular Genetics 16, no. 24 (December 2007): 3160–73. https://doi.org/10.1093/hmg/ddm279. Full Text

Peralta, X. G., Y. Toyama, M. S. Hutson, R. Montague, S. Venakides, D. P. Kiehart, and G. S. Edwards. “Upregulation of forces and morphogenic asymmetries in dorsal closure during Drosophila development..” Biophysical Journal 92, no. 7 (April 2007): 2583–96. https://doi.org/10.1529/biophysj.106.094110. Full Text

Kiehart, D. P., and K. Bloom. “Cell structure and dynamics.” Current Opinion in Cell Biology 19, no. 1 (February 1, 2007): 1–4. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ceb.2006.12.015. Full Text


Selected Grants

Cytoplasmic Myosin Function In Vitro awarded by National Institutes of Health (Principal Investigator). 1996 to 1999

Genetics Training Grant awarded by National Institutes of Health (Principal Investigator). 1997 to 1999

Dynamic Cytoskeletal Function Of A Myosin In Development awarded by National Institutes of Health (Principal Investigator). 1995 to 1998

Cytoplasmic Myosin Function In Vitro And In Vivo awarded by National Institutes of Health (Principal Investigator). 1995 to 1996