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

Kiehart, D. P., Y. Tokutake, M. S. Chang, M. S. Hutson, J. Wiemann, X. G. Peralta, Y. Toyama, A. R. Wells, A. Rodriguez, and G. S. Edwards. “Ultraviolet Laser Microbeam for Dissection of Drosophila Embryos” 3 (December 1, 2006): 87–103. https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-012164730-8/50137-4. Full Text

Franke, Josef D., Amanda L. Boury, Noel J. Gerald, and Daniel P. Kiehart. “Native nonmuscle myosin II stability and light chain binding in Drosophila melanogaster..” Cell Motility and the Cytoskeleton 63, no. 10 (October 2006): 604–22. https://doi.org/10.1002/cm.20148. Full Text

Yang, Yi, Mihály Kovács, Takeshi Sakamoto, Fang Zhang, Daniel P. Kiehart, and James R. Sellers. “Dimerized Drosophila myosin VIIa: a processive motor..” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 103, no. 15 (April 3, 2006): 5746–51. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.0509935103. Full Text

Homsy, Jason G., Heinrich Jasper, Xomalin G. Peralta, Hai Wu, Daniel P. Kiehart, and Dirk Bohmann. “JNK signaling coordinates integrin and actin functions during Drosophila embryogenesis..” Developmental Dynamics : An Official Publication of the American Association of Anatomists 235, no. 2 (February 2006): 427–34. https://doi.org/10.1002/dvdy.20649. Full Text

Franke, Josef D., Ruth A. Montague, and Daniel P. Kiehart. “Nonmuscle myosin II generates forces that transmit tension and drive contraction in multiple tissues during dorsal closure..” Current Biology : Cb 15, no. 24 (December 2005): 2208–21. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2005.11.064. Full Text

Todi, Sokol V., Josef D. Franke, Daniel P. Kiehart, and Daniel F. Eberl. “Myosin VIIA defects, which underlie the Usher 1B syndrome in humans, lead to deafness in Drosophila..” Current Biology : Cb 15, no. 9 (May 2005): 862–68. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2005.03.050. Full Text

Franke, Josef D., Fan Dong, Wayne L. Rickoll, Michael J. Kelley, and Daniel P. Kiehart. “Rod mutations associated with MYH9-related disorders disrupt nonmuscle myosin-IIA assembly..” Blood 105, no. 1 (January 2005): 161–69. https://doi.org/10.1182/blood-2004-06-2067. Full Text

Kiehart, Daniel P., Josef D. Franke, Mark K. Chee, R. A. Montague, Tung-Ling Chen, John Roote, and Michael Ashburner. “Drosophila crinkled, mutations of which disrupt morphogenesis and cause lethality, encodes fly myosin VIIA..” Genetics 168, no. 3 (November 2004): 1337–52. https://doi.org/10.1534/genetics.104.026369. Full Text

Dorman, Jennie B., Karen E. James, Scott E. Fraser, Daniel P. Kiehart, and Celeste A. Berg. “bullwinkle is required for epithelial morphogenesis during Drosophila oogenesis..” Developmental Biology 267, no. 2 (March 2004): 320–41. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ydbio.2003.10.020. Full Text

Kiehart, Daniel P. “Myosins motor Miranda..” Molecular Cell 12, no. 6 (December 2003): 1346–47. https://doi.org/10.1016/s1097-2765(03)00495-7. Full Text