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, JM, Harden, N, Leung, T, Lim, L, and Kiehart, DP. "Cellularization in Drosophila melanogaster is disrupted by the inhibition of rho activity and the activation of Cdc42 function." Dev Biol 204, no. 1 (December 1, 1998): 151-164. Full Text

Aitken, PG, Borgdorff, AJ, Juta, AJ, Kiehart, DP, Somjen, GG, and Wadman, WJ. "Volume changes induced by osmotic stress in freshly isolated rat hippocampal neurons." Pflugers Archiv : European Journal of Physiology 436, no. 6 (November 1998): 991-998. Full Text

Thomas, GH, Zarnescu, DC, Juedes, AE, Bales, MA, Londergan, A, Korte, CC, and Kiehart, DP. "Drosophila betaHeavy-spectrin is essential for development and contributes to specific cell fates in the eye." Development 125, no. 11 (June 1998): 2125-2134.

Thomas, GH, Newbern, EC, Korte, CC, Bales, MA, Muse, SV, Clark, AG, and Kiehart, DP. "Intragenic duplication and divergence in the spectrin superfamily of proteins." Mol Biol Evol 14, no. 12 (December 1997): 1285-1295. Full Text

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 (Cambridge, England) 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.