David R. Sherwood

Professor of Biology

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

Linden, LM, Gordon, KL, Pani, AM, Payne, SG, Garde, A, Burkholder, D, Chi, Q, Goldstein, B, and Sherwood, DR. "Identification of regulators of germ stem cell enwrapment by its niche in C. elegans." Developmental biology (June 22, 2017). Full Text

Jayadev, R, and Sherwood, DR. "Basement membranes." Current biology : CB 27, no. 6 (March 2017): R207-R211. Full Text

Hastie, EL, and Sherwood, DR. "A new front in cell invasion: The invadopodial membrane." European journal of cell biology 95, no. 11 (November 2016): 441-448. (Review) Full Text

McClatchey, ST, Wang, Z, Linden, LM, Hastie, EL, Wang, L, Shen, W, Chen, A, Chi, Q, and Sherwood, DR. "Boundary cells restrict dystroglycan trafficking to control basement membrane sliding during tissue remodeling." eLife 5 (September 23, 2016). Full Text

Jayadev, R, and Sherwood, DR. "Tissue Sculpting by Fibrils." Developmental cell 38, no. 1 (July 2016): 1-3. Full Text

Morrissey, MA, Jayadev, R, Miley, GR, Blebea, CA, Chi, Q, Ihara, S, and Sherwood, DR. "SPARC Promotes Cell Invasion In Vivo by Decreasing Type IV Collagen Levels in the Basement Membrane." PLoS genetics 12, no. 2 (February 29, 2016): e1005905-. Full Text

Lohmer, LL, Clay, MR, Naegeli, KM, Chi, Q, Ziel, JW, Hagedorn, EJ, Park, JE, Jayadev, R, and Sherwood, DR. "A Sensitized Screen for Genes Promoting Invadopodia Function In Vivo: CDC-42 and Rab GDI-1 Direct Distinct Aspects of Invadopodia Formation." PLoS genetics 12, no. 1 (January 14, 2016): e1005786-. Full Text

Matus, DQ, Lohmer, LL, Kelley, LC, Schindler, AJ, Kohrman, AQ, Barkoulas, M, Zhang, W, Chi, Q, and Sherwood, DR. "Invasive Cell Fate Requires G1 Cell-Cycle Arrest and Histone Deacetylase-Mediated Changes in Gene Expression." Developmental cell 35, no. 2 (October 2015): 162-174. Full Text

Sherwood, DR. "A developmental biologist's "outside-the-cell" thinking." The Journal of cell biology 210, no. 3 (August 2015): 369-372. Full Text

Wei, X, Howell, AS, Dong, X, Taylor, CA, Cooper, RC, Zhang, J, Zou, W, Sherwood, DR, and Shen, K. "The unfolded protein response is required for dendrite morphogenesis." eLife 4 (June 8, 2015): e06963-. Full Text


Training Program in Developmental and Stem Cell Biology awarded by National Institutes of Health (Mentor). 2001 to 2022

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

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

Understanding how innexins direct stem cell niche morphology awarded by National Institutes of Health (Principal Investigator). 2016 to 2018

Serial Block Face Scanning Electron Microscope awarded by National Institutes of Health (Major User). 2016 to 2018

Elucidating Key Mechanisms Regulating Cell Invasion In Vivo awarded by National Institutes of Health (Principal Investigator). 2007 to 2017

Understanding How Invadosomes Breach Basement Membrane In Vivo awarded by National Institutes of Health (Principal Investigator). 2012 to 2016

Cancer Biology Training Grant awarded by National Cancer Institute (Mentor). 1993 to 2016