Adler, Paul N.

Paul N. Adler

Paul N. Adler

Primary Appointment

William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of Biology, Biology


  • BS, Biology, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA
  • MA, Biology, Boston University, Boston, MA
  • PhD, Cell Biology, MIT, Cambridge, MA

Contact Information

Charlottesville, VA 22908
Telephone: 982-5475/5476

Research Interests

Planar signaling, polarity and morphogenesis.

Research Description

My major research interest is the genetic control of morphogenesis at the interface

between the cell and tissue levels. As a model system we have studied planar polarity in the Drosophila wing, which is covered with an array of distally pointing hairs. We have found hair polarity is controlled via regulating the subcellular location

for initiation of the growth of the hair. This site selection is under the control

of the frizzled planar cell polarity pathway. It is thought that a key

step in this process involves the accumulation of protein complexes along the

proximal and distal sides of wing cells. A major focus of the laboratory is to

understand how these asymmetric protein complexes specify the site for activation

of the actin and microtubule cytoskeletons to elaborate the hair. Homologs of

the frizzled pathway genes function to control gastrulation in the vertebrate

embryo, polarity of the stereocillia in the inner ear and some have been implicated

in oncogenesis. We are also studying how cells insure the integrity of cellular

extensions such as hairs, bristles and dendrites. Once again we are using the

Drosophila epidermis as a model. We have found that the tricornered and

furry genes play a key role in this process and that these proteins accumulate

in growing extensions. Our working model is that these proteins function in targeting

intracellular transport to insure proper morphogenesis. Once again these genes

are widely conserved and their homologs have been found to be important for cell

polarity and shape in fungi, worms and flies. Related genes have been found to

involved in cancer formation in mammals and tumorous outgrowths in flies.

Selected Publications