David R. Sherwood

Jerry G. and Patricia Crawford Hubbard Professor

Box 90338, Department of Biology, Durham, NC 27708
Campus Box: 
Duke Box 90338, Durham, NC 27708-1000
(919) 613-8192
Our research is directed at elucidating mechanisms underlying morphogenetic processes in development. We primarily use the model system C. elegans in our research, and combine powerful genetic and systems biology approaches with live-cell imaging to address three main topics:   Tissue Remodeling and Connection A major focus of the lab is the understanding of mechanisms underlying uterine-vulval attachment. A key aspect of this process is the invasion of a single uterine cell, the anchor cell, through the uterine and vulval basement membranes, which initiates uterine-vulval connection. The ability of cells to invade through basement membrane is crucial for many developmental processes and remains one of the least understood aspects in the progression of cancer. We have begun to apply what we learn in the anchor cell to better understand how cancer cells become invasive. Our group also examines other aspects of uterine-vulval attachment, including control of cell division, cell-cell signaling, cell-cell attachments and basement membrane remodeling.  Stem Cell-Niche Interactions We are examining the cell biological aspects of cell-cell and cell-basement membrane establishment of the germ stem cell niche. We are particularly interested in how somatic and germ cells interact to maintain the germ stem cells. We have made the surprising discovery that germ cells that escape their niche appear capable of inducing naïve somatic cells to take on the role of the niche cells. We are conducting screens and performing live-cell imaging studies to understand this novel behavior.
Nutritional Regulation of Late Larval Development  In collaboration with Dr. Ryan Baugh's lab, we are examining the developmental response of late larvae to starvation. We have identified specific developmental checkpoints that larvae enter in response to the absence of food. These studies have many fascinating implications in our understanding of how cells arrest at specific developmental time-points, how an organism and cells enter and exit quiescent states, and how these impinge on life-span. 
Members of our group are trained in a diverse range of scientific approaches and join a vibrant scientific community at Duke University, the Research Triangle region and the worldwide group of worm researchers.


  • Ph.D., Duke University 1997

  • B.A., Wesleyan University 1990

Gordon, Kacy L., Jay W. Zussman, Xin Li, Camille Miller, and David R. Sherwood. “Stem cell niche exit in C. elegans via orientation and segregation of daughter cells by a cryptic cell outside the niche.Elife 9 (July 21, 2020). https://doi.org/10.7554/elife.56383. Full Text

Keeley, Daniel P., Eric Hastie, Ranjay Jayadev, Laura C. Kelley, Qiuyi Chi, Sara G. Payne, Jonathan L. Jeger, Brenton D. Hoffman, and David R. Sherwood. “Comprehensive Endogenous Tagging of Basement Membrane Components Reveals Dynamic Movement within the Matrix Scaffolding.Developmental Cell 54, no. 1 (July 2020): 60-74.e7. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.devcel.2020.05.022. Full Text

Chen, David, Eric Hastie, and David Sherwood. “Endogenous expression of UNC-59/Septin in C. elegans.Micropublication Biology 2019 (December 20, 2019). https://doi.org/10.17912/micropub.biology.000200. Full Text

Hartman, Jessica H., Christopher T. Richie, Kacy L. Gordon, Danielle F. Mello, Priscila Castillo, April Zhu, Yun Wang, et al. “MANF deletion abrogates early larval Caenorhabditis elegans stress response to tunicamycin and Pseudomonas aeruginosa.European Journal of Cell Biology 98, no. 5–8 (December 2019): 151043. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ejcb.2019.05.002. Full Text

Jayadev, Ranjay, Qiuyi Chi, Daniel P. Keeley, Eric L. Hastie, Laura C. Kelley, and David R. Sherwood. “α-Integrins dictate distinct modes of type IV collagen recruitment to basement membranes.The Journal of Cell Biology 218, no. 9 (September 2019): 3098–3116. https://doi.org/10.1083/jcb.201903124. Full Text

Sherwood, David R. “Breaching the Basement Membrane David R. Sherwood.” Developmental Cell 49, no. 4 (May 20, 2019): 498–498.

Gordon, Kacy L., Sara G. Payne, Lara M. Linden-High, Ariel M. Pani, Bob Goldstein, E Jane Albert Hubbard, and David R. Sherwood. “Ectopic Germ Cells Can Induce Niche-like Enwrapment by Neighboring Body Wall Muscle.Current Biology : Cb 29, no. 5 (March 2019): 823-833.e5. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2019.01.056. Full Text

Kelley, Laura C., Qiuyi Chi, Rodrigo Cáceres, Eric Hastie, Adam J. Schindler, Yue Jiang, David Q. Matus, Julie Plastino, and David R. Sherwood. “Adaptive F-Actin Polymerization and Localized ATP Production Drive Basement Membrane Invasion in the Absence of MMPs.Developmental Cell 48, no. 3 (February 2019): 313-328.e8. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.devcel.2018.12.018. Full Text

Keeley, Daniel P., and David R. Sherwood. “Tissue linkage through adjoining basement membranes: The long and the short term of it.Matrix Biology : Journal of the International Society for Matrix Biology 75–76 (January 2019): 58–71. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.matbio.2018.05.009. Full Text

Hibshman, Jonathan D., Tess C. Leuthner, Chelsea Shoben, Danielle F. Mello, David R. Sherwood, Joel N. Meyer, and L Ryan Baugh. “Nonselective autophagy reduces mitochondrial content during starvation in Caenorhabditis elegans.American Journal of Physiology. Cell Physiology 315, no. 6 (December 2018): C781–92. https://doi.org/10.1152/ajpcell.00109.2018. Full Text


Garde, A., Y. Li, and D. R. Sherwood. “The role of lipid metabolism in anchor cell invasion in C.elegans.” In Molecular Biology of the Cell, 29:238–39. AMER SOC CELL BIOLOGY, 2018.


Caceres, R., N. Bojanala, L. C. Kelley, J. Dreier, J. Manzi, F. Di Federico, Q. Chi, et al. “WASP and WAVE activate the Arp2/3 complex for actin-based force production during basement membrane invasion.” In Molecular Biology of the Cell, Vol. 28. AMER SOC CELL BIOLOGY, 2017.

Keeley, D. P., and D. R. Sherwood. “Type IV Collagen stabilizes the connection of juxtaposed tissues at the B-LINK complex.” In Molecular Biology of the Cell, Vol. 27. AMER SOC CELL BIOLOGY, 2016.

Naegeli, K. M., Q. Chi, and D. R. Sherwood. “Rapid exocytosis of an endolysosome-derived membrane domain forms a polarized invasive protrusion that clears basement membrane during cell invasion.” In Molecular Biology of the Cell, Vol. 26. AMER SOC CELL BIOLOGY, 2015.

Jayadev, R., and D. R. Sherwood. “Visualizing and elucidating the regulation of type IV collagen assembly in developing basement membranes.” In Molecular Biology of the Cell, Vol. 26. AMER SOC CELL BIOLOGY, 2015.

Clay, M. R., LR Lilley Lohmer, J. W. Ziel, Q. Chi, and D. R. Sherwood. “Cell invasion through basement membrane requires multiple GTPases and is initiated by CDC-42 directed invadopodia formation.” In Molecular Biology of the Cell, Vol. 25. AMER SOC CELL BIOLOGY, 2014.

Matus, D. Q., L. L. Lohmer, L. C. Kelley, and D. R. Sherwood. “Cell cycle arrest is required for cell invasive behavior.” In Molecular Biology of the Cell, Vol. 25. AMER SOC CELL BIOLOGY, 2014.

Keeley, D. P., M. Morrissey, and D. R. Sherwood. “Investigating the B-LINK: an adhesion system that links neighboring basement membranes.” In Molecular Biology of the Cell, Vol. 25. AMER SOC CELL BIOLOGY, 2014.

Schindler, A. J., L. R. Baugh, and D. R. Sherwood. “Identification of two novel insulin- and hormone-regulated nutritional checkpoints in C. elegans development.” In Integrative and Comparative Biology, 54:E185–E185. OXFORD UNIV PRESS INC, 2014.


Selected Grants

Genetic and Genomics Training Grant awarded by National Institutes of Health (Mentor). 2020 to 2025

Pharmacological Sciences Training Grant awarded by National Institutes of Health (Preceptor). 2020 to 2025

A comprehensive toolkit to visualize endogenously tagged fluorescent basement membrane components in a living animal awarded by National Institutes of Health (Principal Investigator). 2020 to 2022

Understanding the role of the collagen receptor DDR-2 in germ stem cell niche formation awarded by National Institutes of Health (Principal Investigator). 2019 to 2022

Understanding how cells invade through basement membrane in vivo awarded by National Institutes of Health (Principal Investigator). 2016 to 2021

Connecting human disease to basement membrane biology awarded by University of Manchester (Principal Investigator). 2019 to 2020

Transmission electron microscope (TEM) awarded by National Institutes of Health (Minor User). 2019 to 2020

Genetics Training Grant awarded by National Institutes of Health (Mentor). 1979 to 2020

Organization and Function of Cellular Structure awarded by National Institutes of Health (Mentor). 1975 to 2020

Defining a Newly Identified Membrane Structure That Directs Cell Invasion awarded by American Cancer Society, Inc. (Principal Investigator). 2016 to 2019