Header Logo

Search Result Details

This page shows the details of why an item matched the keywords from your search.
One or more keywords matched the following properties of Theurkauf, William

Academic Background

Bill Theurkauf received his BA from Brandeis University in 1980, and his PhD in Biochemistry from Brandeis in 1988. From 1988 to 1993 he was a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics at UCSF, where he was supported by fellowships from the Damon Runyon-Walter Winchell Cancer Research Fund and NIH. From 1993 to 1998, he was a member of the faculty of the Department of Biochemistry and Cell Biology at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. In September 1998, Dr. Theurkauf joined the Program in Molecular Medicine at University of Massachusetts Medical Center as an associate professor. He is currently a professor in the Program in Molecular Medicine and Director of the Program in Cell and Developmental Dynamics


The germline transmits the genetic instructions that perpetuate species, which presents unique pressures on genome maintenance systems. We’re interested in the mechanisms that maintain the integrity of the “immortal” genome during germline development, and in the developmental consequences of defects in these mechanisms.


Transposons and transposon fragments represent approximately half the human genome. Mobilization of these elements can lead to genetic instability and disease, but may also drive evolution and generate diversity during neurogenesis. In bilateral animals, Piwi-interacting RNAs (piRNAs) silence transposons during germline development and have a critical role in maintaining the integrity of the inherited genome. Primary piRNAs bind to PIWI clade Argonaute proteins and mediate transposon silencing. These small silencing RNAs are generated from long precursors encoded by heterochromatic clusters. Most of the piRNA processing machinery, by contrast, localizes to the perinuclear nuage. We would like to understand 1) the genetic and epigenetic mechanisms that specify clusters; 2) How transcripts from the heterochromatic piRNA clusters are directed to the biogenesis machinery/nuage, and 3) how piRNAs suppress transposition.

Related publications:

Klattenhoff, C. Bratu, D, P., McGinnis-Schultz, N., Koppetsch, B. S. , Cook, H. A., and Theurkauf, W. E. (2007). Drosophila rasiRNA pathway mutations disrupt embryonic axis specification through activation of an ATR/Chk2 DNA damage response. Developmental Cell 12, 45-56.

Li, C., Vagin, V. V., Lee, S., Xu, J., Ma, , Xi, H, Seitz, H., Horwich, M. D., Syrzycka, M., Honda, B. M., Kittler, E. L. W., Zapp, M. L., Klattenhoff, C., Schulz, N., Theurkauf, W. E., Weng, Z. and P. D. Zamore (2009). In the absence of Argonaute3, Aubergine-bound piRNAs collapse, but Piwi-bound piRNAs persist. Cell 137, 509-521.

Klattenhoff, C., Xi, H, Li, C, Lee, S., Xu, J., Khurana, J.S., Schultz, N., Koppetsch, B. S., Nowosielska, A., Seitz, H., Zamore, P.D., Weng. Z. and William E. Theurkauf (2009). The Drosophila HP1 homologue Rhino is required for transposon silencing and piRNA production by dual strand clusters. Cell 138, 1137-1149. PMID: 19732946.

Khurana, J. S., Xu. J., Weng, Z. and W. E. Theurkauf (2010). Distinct functions for the Drosophila piRNA pathway in genome maintenance and telomere protection. PLoS Genetics 6, e1001246.


The piRNA pathway represents an adaptive immune system that controls the activity of mobile genetic elements. This rapidly evolving genome pathogens can arise from infectious viruses and spread through both interbreeding and poorly understood horizontal transfer mechanisms. We have recently found that introduction of P element transposons activates a broad spectrum of resident transposon families, and that silencing of the invading P element and resident elements is linked to generation of new transposon insertions in piRNA clusters that are transmitted through the germline with high fidelity. These findings indicate that adaptation to transposon invasion triggers significant structural changes in genome architecture that appear to genetically enhance silencing capacity. Ongoing studies are directed at understanding how invasion of a single transposon activates resident elements, and the role of this process in chromosome evolution.

Related publication:

Khurana, J. S., Wang, J., Xu, J., Koppetsch, B., Thomson, T., Nowosielska, A., Li., C., Zamore, P. D., Weng, Z., and W. E. Theurkauf (2011). Adaptation to P element transposon invasion in Drosophila melanogaster. Cell 147, 1551-1563.


DNA damage checkpoint pathways have well-established roles in control of cell division and maintenance of genome integrity. Recent studies from a number of laboratories indicate that complex developmental processes are also regulated in response to DNA damage. In Drosophila, the axes of the embryo are specified through asymmetric localization of morphogenetic RNAs in the developing oocyte. During early embryogenesis, the maternally supplied RNAs that drive initial development are degraded and the genome of the zygotic is transcriptionally activated at the maternal-zygotic transition (MZT), which represents a switch in genetic control of development from the mother to the zygote. Axis specification and the MZT are controlled by DNA damage signaling through Chk2 kinase, which functions as a tumor suppressor in humans. We would like to understand how Chk2 governs these key developmental processes.

Related publications:

Klattenhoff, C. Bratu, D, P., McGinnis-Schultz, N., Koppetsch, B. S. , Cook, H. A., and Theurkauf, W. E. (2007). Drosophila rasiRNA pathway mutations disrupt embryonic axis specification through activation of an ATR/Chk2 DNA damage response. Developmental Cell 12, 45-56.

Benoit, B., He, C. H., Zhang, F., Votruba, S. M., Tadros, W., Weswood, J. T., Smibert, C. A., Lipshitz, H. D., and W. E. Theurkauf (2009). An essential role for the RNA-binding protein SMAUG at the Drosophila maternal-to-zygotic transition. Development 136, 923-932.

One or more keywords matched the following items that are connected to Theurkauf, William
Item TypeName
Academic Article Anastral meiotic spindle morphogenesis: role of the non-claret disjunctional kinesin-like protein.
Academic Article Behavior of structurally divergent alpha-tubulin isotypes during Drosophila embryogenesis: evidence for post-translational regulation of isotype abundance.
Academic Article Identification and characterization of mitotic mutations in Drosophila.
Academic Article Development. The message is in the translation.
Academic Article DNA-replication checkpoint control at the Drosophila midblastula transition.
Academic Article Recognition of a bicoid mRNA localization signal by a protein complex containing Swallow, Nod, and RNA binding proteins.
Academic Article Drosophila checkpoint kinase 2 couples centrosome function and spindle assembly to genomic integrity.
Academic Article The Drosophila ATM homologue Mei-41 has an essential checkpoint function at the midblastula transition.
Academic Article The Drosophila SDE3 homolog armitage is required for oskar mRNA silencing and embryonic axis specification.
Academic Article TACCing down the spindle poles.
Academic Article In vivo analysis of Drosophila bicoid mRNA localization reveals a novel microtubule-dependent axis specification pathway.
Academic Article Collapse of germline piRNAs in the absence of Argonaute3 reveals somatic piRNAs in flies.
Academic Article The Drosophila HP1 homolog Rhino is required for transposon silencing and piRNA production by dual-strand clusters.
Academic Article Arp2/3-dependent pseudocleavage [correction of psuedocleavage] furrow assembly in syncytial Drosophila embryos.
Academic Article Kinesin I-dependent cortical exclusion restricts pole plasm to the oocyte posterior.
Academic Article Transposition-driven genomic heterogeneity in the Drosophila brain.
Academic Article Tissue-specific and constitutive alpha-tubulin genes of Drosophila melanogaster code for structurally distinct proteins.
Academic Article RISC assembly defects in the Drosophila RNAi mutant armitage.
Academic Article The cytoskeleton and morphogenesis of the early Drosophila embryo.
Academic Article Actin cytoskeleton. Through the bottleneck.
Academic Article Microtubules and cytoplasm organization during Drosophila oogenesis.
Academic Article Premature microtubule-dependent cytoplasmic streaming in cappuccino and spire mutant oocytes.
Academic Article Requiem for distributive segregation: achiasmate segregation in Drosophila females.
Academic Article Dynamic changes in microtubule configuration correlate with nuclear migration in the preblastoderm Drosophila embryo.
Academic Article Normal microRNA maturation and germ-line stem cell maintenance requires Loquacious, a double-stranded RNA-binding domain protein.
Academic Article Drosophila rasiRNA pathway mutations disrupt embryonic axis specification through activation of an ATR/Chk2 DNA damage response.
Academic Article Components of the RNAi machinery that mediate long-distance chromosomal associations are dispensable for meiotic and early somatic homolog pairing in Drosophila melanogaster.
Academic Article An essential role for the RNA-binding protein Smaug during the Drosophila maternal-to-zygotic transition.
Academic Article Distinct functions for the Drosophila piRNA pathway in genome maintenance and telomere protection.
Academic Article Heterotypic piRNA Ping-Pong requires qin, a protein with both E3 ligase and Tudor domains.
Academic Article Adaptation to P element transposon invasion in Drosophila melanogaster.
Academic Article UAP56 couples piRNA clusters to the perinuclear transposon silencing machinery.
Academic Article Immunofluorescence analysis of the cytoskeleton during oogenesis and early embryogenesis.
Academic Article Mechanical basis of meiotic metaphase arrest.
Concept Drosophila melanogaster
Academic Article The HP1 homolog rhino anchors a nuclear complex that suppresses piRNA precursor splicing.
Academic Article TEMP: a computational method for analyzing transposable element polymorphism in populations.
Academic Article Adaptive Evolution Leads to Cross-Species Incompatibility in the piRNA Transposon Silencing Machinery.
Academic Article Structural insights into Rhino-Deadlock complex for germline piRNA cluster specification.
Academic Article Co-dependent Assembly of Drosophila piRNA Precursor Complexes and piRNA Cluster Heterochromatin.
Academic Article piRNA-independent transposon silencing by the Drosophila THO complex.
Academic Article Epigenetic and chromosomal features drive transposon insertion in Drosophila melanogaster.
Search Criteria
  • Drosophila melanogaster