Paul Adler

Adler, Paul N.

Primary Appointment

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


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

Contact Information

PLSB 420
Telephone: 982-5475/5476

Research Disciplines

Biology, Genetics

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

Selected Publications