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

Crawford, J. M., Z. Su, O. Varlamova, A. R. Bresnick, and D. P. Kiehart. “Role of myosin-II phosphorylation in V12Cdc42-mediated disruption of Drosophila cellularization..” European Journal of Cell Biology 80, no. 3 (March 2001): 240–44. https://doi.org/10.1078/0171-9335-00156. Full Text

Champagne, M. B., K. A. Edwards, H. P. Erickson, and D. P. Kiehart. “Drosophila stretchin-MLCK is a novel member of the Titin/Myosin light chain kinase family..” Journal of Molecular Biology 300, no. 4 (July 2000): 759–77. https://doi.org/10.1006/jmbi.2000.3802. Full Text

Halsell, S. R., B. I. Chu, and D. P. Kiehart. “Genetic analysis demonstrates a direct link between rho signaling and nonmuscle myosin function during Drosophila morphogenesis..” Genetics 155, no. 3 (July 2000): 1253–65.

Kiehart, D. P., C. G. Galbraith, K. A. Edwards, W. L. Rickoll, and R. A. Montague. “Multiple forces contribute to cell sheet morphogenesis for dorsal closure in Drosophila..” The Journal of Cell Biology 149, no. 2 (April 2000): 471–90. https://doi.org/10.1083/jcb.149.2.471. Full Text

Kiehart, D. P. “Wound healing: The power of the purse string..” Current Biology : Cb 9, no. 16 (August 1999): R602–5. https://doi.org/10.1016/s0960-9822(99)80384-4. Full Text

Crawford, J. M., and D. P. Kiehart. “From one cell to many.” Current Biology 9, no. 11 (June 3, 1999). https://doi.org/10.1016/S0960-9822(99)80247-4. Full Text

Crawford, J. M., and D. P. Kiehart. “Biology in pictures: From one cell to many..” Current Biology : Cb 9, no. 11 (June 1999). https://doi.org/10.1016/s0960-9822(99)80247-4. Full Text

Ohashi, T., D. P. Kiehart, and H. P. Erickson. “Dynamics and elasticity of the fibronectin matrix in living cell culture visualized by fibronectin-green fluorescent protein..” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 96, no. 5 (March 1999): 2153–58. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.96.5.2153. Full Text