Associate Professor of Biology

Phone: (405)325-9038
Lab: (405)325-9039
Fax: (405)325-6202


Dr. McCauley's Web Page

David McCauley Current Research Interests and Subject Areas Available for Graduate Research

Research in the McCauley lab is focused on evolutionary changes to developmental mechanisms that were important for the origin of novel vertebrate characters, with a particular focus on the neural crest. The neural crest is a fascinating cell population that gives rise to many of the traits that we usually associate with vertebrates. In the head region, neural crest cells give rise to a diverse array of cell types, including cartilage and bones of the face, pigment cells, and make contributions to cranial ganglia, while in the trunk region they give rise to sensory and sympathetic neurons, glial, and pigment cells. We are using the sea lamprey as a model to study neural crest evolution and are integrating these investigations into studies that also use zebrafish mutants to identify the evolutionary conservation of developmental mechanisms (see below). Molecular tools available for use in lampreys include antisense morpholinos. We have used morpholinos to knock down activity of genes of interest required for neural crest development. Currently, the lab is focused on the role of SoxE genes in the early evolution of vertebrates, and how diversification of SoxE genes might have been important in early vertebrates for establishing differences in development of the branchial skeleton that supports the pharynx. We are also interested in the development of trunk neural crest in the lamprey to determine if there are important differences in the developmental mechanisms in these cells from that described in other vertebrates.  We have recently begun to use a heterospecific approach to understanding how functional changes to the SoxE proteins may arise. We express the lamprey SoxE sequences in zebrafish Sox9a (jellyfish) or Sox10 (colourless) mutant embryos and analyze the rescue phenotypes. Zebrafish lacking Sox9a or Sox9b expression lose their branchial skeleton. However, forced expression of lamprey SoxE1 in this mutant results in partial recovery of these cartilage structures. Similarly, the Sox10 mutant fish lacks dorsal root ganglia, enteric neurons, and pigment. Expresion in the Sox10 mutant of all three of the lamprey SoxE gene sequences can rescue these phenotypes, with SoxE2 resulting in robust pigment and neuronal rescue. Presently, we are starting to use deletion and chimeric construct analysis techniques to begin to determine how amino acid sequence differences among the SoxE genes are critical for their cell type-specific activities. Projects related to the above described theme are available to prospective graduate students interested the McCauley lab.

To learn more about this research, visit Dr. McCauley's Web Page.

Curriculum Vitae

Ph.D., University of Texas at Austin

B.S.: The University of North Carolina at Charlotte

Back to Biology Faculty

Selected publications:

  • Smith, J.J. et al. (2013). Sequencing of the sea lamprey (Petromyzon marinus) genome provides insights into vertebrate evolution. Nature Genetics (in press). doi:10.1038/ng.2568.

  • Lakiza, O., MIller. S., Bunce, A., Lee, EMJ, McCauley, DW. (2011). SoxE gene duplication and development of the lamprey branchial skeleton: Insights into development and evolution of the neural crest. Developmental Biology 359(1): 149-161.

  • Martin, WM, Bumm, LA, McCauley, DW. (2009). Development of the viscerocranial skeleton during embryogenesis of the sea lamprey, Petromyzon Marinus. Developmental Dynamics 238(12): 3126-38.

  • Hammond, K. L., Baxendale, S., McCauley, D. W., Ingham, P. W., and Whitfield, T. T. (2009) Expression of patched, prdm1 and engrailed in the lamprey somite reveals conserved responses to Hedgehog signaling. Evolution and Development 11(1):27-40

  • Rahimi, R., Allmond, J., Wagner, H., McCauley, D., and Langeland, J. (2009) Lamprey snail highlights conserved and novel patterning roles in vertebrate embryos. Development Genes and Evolution 219(1):31-36.

  • McCauley, D. W. (2008) SoxE, Type II collagen, and evolution of the chondrogenic neural crest. Zoological Science. 25(10):982-989.e

  • McCauley, D. W. and Kuratani, S. (2008) Cyclostome studies in the context of vertebrate evolution. ZoologicalScience  25 (10):953-954.

  • Trinh, L.A., McCutchen, M.D., Bronner-Fraser, M., Fraser, S.E., Bumm, L.A., & McCauley, D.W. (2007). Fluorescent in situ hybridization employing the conventional NBT/BCIP chromogenic stain. BioTechniques  42(6), 756-759.

  • McCauley, D.W. and Bronner-Fraser, M. (2006). Importance of SoxE in neural crest development and the evolution of the pharynx. Nature 441, 750-752.

  • McCauley, D.W., and Bronner-Fraser, M. (2004). Conservation and divergence of BMP2/4 genes in the lamprey: Expression and phylogenetic analysis suggest a single ancestral vertebrate gene. Evolution and Development 6, 411-422.

  • McCauley, D.W. and Bronner-Fraser, M. (2003). Neural crest contributions to the lamprey head. Development 130, 2317-2327.





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