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Florida Atlantic University & Max Planck Florida Institute - Integrative Biology and Neuroscience

Integrative Biology and Neuroscience Faculty - Dr. John Nambu


Dr. John Nambu

(561) 297-3926
morgue, a novel ubiquitination gene that functions in apoptosis, is required for normal midline glial development. Compared to wild type embryos (A,C), the midline glia of morgue mutant embryos (A,D) exhibit abnormal numbers and
cytoplasmic projections. The conserved Sox HMG domain protein Dichaete is expressed in excitatory neurons near the adult antennal lobe as revealed by expression of a Cha-Gal4 marker (green) and anti-Dichate immunostaining (red).

Professor, Department of Biological Sciences
College of Science
Florida Atlantic University

Research Description

Our research seeks to illuminate the mechanisms underlying cell differentiation during development in Drosophila. In particular, we have chosen to analyze two fundamental properties of differentiating cells, their ability to achieve highly specific patterns of gene regulation, and their ability to undergo programmed cell death. These processes are particularly evident in the developing nervous system where large numbers of distinct neurons and glia must be generated in appropriate numbers. Thus, much of our efforts have focused on analysis of developing neurons and glia. Overall, we employ a battery of approaches, spanning molecular biology, genetics, biochemistry, and cell biology to identify and characterize the functions of genes that regulate cell differentiation processes. This includes analysis of several cell death regulators, including members of the Grim-Reaper family of Inhibitor-of-Apoptosis-Protein antagonists, and a novel ubiquitination protein, Morgue. In addition, we have characterized the functions of an evolutionarily conserved Drosophila Sox HMG domain protein, Dichaete, that has critical transcriptional regulatory activities in several major developmental processes. Significantly, as alterations in programmed cell death patterns are a contributing factor in several human cancers and neurodegenerative disorders, and Dichaete is related to the mammalian testis-determining factor Sry and the pluripotency regulator, Sox2, these studies have important implications for human developmental disorders and disease.

Research Interests

  • Characterize functions of local interneurons in projection neuron differentiation in the Drosophila adult olfactory system.
  • Analyze the role of Drosophila Dichaete and related Group B Sox genes in differentiation of neurons and glia.
  • Characterize mechanisms of ubiquitination in programmed cell death and nervous system development.
  • Analyze the evolution and functions of morgue, a unique ubiquitination gene.


  • PhD: Stanford University, Biology (1987)

Recent Publications

IBAN Faculty List

FAU Campuses: Boca Raton/Davie/Dania Beach/Fort Lauderdale/Jupiter/Treasure Coast/Harbor Branch
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