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Faculty and Research

Faculty Member

David McCauley

David McCauley

Associate Professor, Biology Richards Hall 305 & 317 405-325-9038 Ph.D., Zoology - University of Texas, 1997


The focus of my lab is on the evolution of vertebrate novelties, particularly related to neural crest cells. Neural crest cells are unique to vertebrates and are thought to have been a key innovation in the evolution of vertebrates from an ancestor lacking this cell type. We use a combination of models to investigate the role of gene duplication and divergence in the origin of novel vertebrate traits. Much of our work centers on the development in a basal vertebrate, the sea lamprey Petromyzon marinus. This primitively jawless fish is a valuable model in which to study the origin and evolution of vertebrate characters, including the neural crest. We combine a variety of cellular and molecular techniques, including dye labeling, gene perturbation, and gene expression studies, to determine how vertebrate complexity may be related to gene duplication in the early vertebrate ancestor, and how these gene duplications are related to evolution of the neural crest. We are also using the well-established zebrafish model to determine how duplicated genes retain ancestral function during development, and how duplication has also resulted in new functions specific to gnathostome vertebrates.

Selected Publications:

Yuan, T., York, J. R., and McCauley, D. W. (2018) Gliogenesis in lampreys shares gene regulatory interactions with oligodendrocyte development in jawed vertebrates. Developmental Biology 441: 176-190. doi: 10.1016/j.ydbio.2018.07.002.

York, J. R., Yuan, T., Lakiza, O., and McCauley, D. W. (2018) An ancestral role for Semaphorin3F-Neuropilin signalling in patterning neural crest within the new vertebrate head. Development 145(14) pii: dev164780. doi: 10.1242/dev.164780.

York, J. R., Yuan, T., Zehnder, K., and McCauley, D. W.. (2017) Lamprey neural crest migration is Snail-dependent and occurs without a differential shift in cadherin expression. Developmental Biology 428: 176-187.

Lee, E. M., Yuan, T., Nguyen, K., Medeiros, D. M., and McCauley, D. W. (2016) Functional constraints on SoxE proteins in neural crest development: the importance of differential expression for evolution of protein activity. Developmental Biology 418: 166-178.

McCauley, D. W., Docker, M. F., Whyard, S., and Li, W. (2015) Lampreys as diverse model organisms in the genomics era. BioScience 65(11): 1046-1056. doi: 10.1093/biosci/biv139

Heath, G., Childs, D., Docker, M. F., McCauley, D. W., and Whyard, S. (2014) RNA interference technology to control pest sea lampreys – a proof-of-concept. PLOS ONE doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0088387

Tulenko, F. J., McCauley, D. W., MacKenzie, E. L., Mazan, S., Kuratani, S., Sugahara, F., Kusakabe, R., and Burke, A.C., (2013) Body wall development in lamprey and a new perspective on the origin of vertebrate paired fins. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 110(29): 11899-11904.

Smith, J., et al. (2013) Sequencing of the sea lamprey (Petromyzon marinus) genome provides insights into vertebrate evolution. Nature Genetics 45(4): 415-421. doi:10.1038/ng.2568.

Lakiza, O., Miller, S., Bunce, A., Lee, E., and McCauley, D. W. (2011) SoxE gene duplication and development of the lamprey branchial skeleton: insights into development and evolution of the neural crest. Developmental Biology 359: 149-161.

Martin, W., Bumm, L., and McCauley, D. W. (2009) Development of the viscerocranial skeleton during embryogenesis of the sea lamprey, Petromyzon marinus. Developmental Dynamics 238: 3126-3138.