Michael B. O'Connor, Ph.D.

Professor, Department of Genetics, Cell Biology and Development

Associate Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute

Ordway Professor of Developmental biology
E-mail: moconnor@umn.edu

Research Interests:

My lab is interested in understanding the role of TGF-ß type factors in regulating neurodevelopment and function.  To that end, we have been characterizing the neuronal defects associated with mutations in various TGF-ß ligands and signal transduction components in both the mouse and the fly.

Our second area of interest is  to determine how the brain integrates, developmental, nutritional and environmental cues to regulate the timing of metamorphosis in insects.  For these studies,  we use molecular genetic methods in Drosophila and Bombyx to dissect the neuroendocrine signaling pathways that regulate onset of metamorphosis. 

Selected Publications:

(For a comprehensive list of recent publications, refer to PubMed, a service provided by the National Library of Medicine.)

Ghosh AC, O'Connor MB. Systemic Activin signaling independently regulates sugar homeostasis, cellular metabolism, and pH balance in Drosophila melanogaster. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2014 Apr 15;111(15):5729-34.

Ghosh AC, O'Connor MB. Systemic Activin signaling independently regulates sugar homeostasis, cellular metabolism, and pH balance in Drosophila melanogaster. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2014 Mar 31;.

Ting CY, McQueen PG, Pandya N, Lin TY, Yang M, Reddy OV, O'Connor MB, McAuliffe M, Lee CH. Photoreceptor-derived activin promotes dendritic termination and restricts the receptive fields of first-order interneurons in Drosophila. Neuron. 2014 Feb 19;81(4):830-46.

Yamanaka N, Romero NM, Martin FA, Rewitz KF, Sun M, O'Connor MB, LĂ©opold P. Neuroendocrine control of Drosophila larval light preference. Science. 2013 Sep 6;341(6150):1113-6.

Yamanaka N, O'Connor MB. Nitric oxide directly regulates gene expression during Drosophila development: need some gas to drive into metamorphosis? Genes Dev. 2011 Jul 15;25(14):1459-63. doi: 10.1101/gad.2080411.

Yamanaka N, O'Connor MB. Apiology: royal secrets in the queen's fat body. Curr Biol. 2011 Jul 12;21(13):R510-2.

Awasak, T., Huang, Y., O’Connor M.B. and Lee T.  (2011) Glia instruct developmental neuronal remodeling through TGF-ß signaling.  Nature Neuroscience 14: 821-3 PMID: 21685919

Gibbens YY, Warren JT, Gilbert LI, O'Connor MB. Neuroendocrine regulation of Drosophila metamorphosis requires TGFbeta/Activin signaling. Development. 2011 Jul;138(13):2693-703. Epub 2011 May 25.

Ghosh A, McBrayer Z, O'Connor MB. The Drosophila gap gene giant regulates ecdysone production through specification of the PTTH-producing neurons. Dev Biol. 2010 Nov 15;347(2):271-8. Epub 2010 Sep 9.

Sun M, Forsman C, Sergi C, Gopalakrishnan R, O'Connor MB, Petryk A. The expression of twisted gastrulation in postnatal mouse brain and functional implications. Neuroscience. 2010 Aug 25;169(2):920-31. Epub 2010 May 20.

Sun, M., Gewirtz, J.C., Bofenkamp, L., Wickham, R.J., Ge, H., O’Connor, M.B. (2010) Canonical TGF-β signaling is required for excitatory/inhibitory short-term plasticity balance within the CA1 hippocampal network. J. Neuroscience 30: 6025-35

Umulis, D. M., Shimmi, O., O'Connor, M. B., Othmer, H.G., (2010) Organism-scale modeling of early Drosophila development by Bone Morphogenetic Proteins. Dev. Cell 18: 260-274

Okamoto*, N., Yamanaka* N., Yagi, Y.,, Nishida, Y., Kataoka, H., O’Connor, M.B., and Mizoguchi, A. (2009) Fat body derived IGF-like peptide regulates post-feeding growth in Drosophila. Dev. Cell 17: 885–891

Rewitz K.F., Yamanaka, N., Gilbert, L.I. and O’Connor M.B. (2009) The insect neuropeptide PTTH activates the receptor tyrosine kinase Torso to initiate insect metamorphosis Science 326:1403-5

Rewitz, K. F., Larsen, M R., Lobner-Olesen, A., Rybczynski, R., O’Connor, M. B., Gilbert, L.I. (2009) A Phosphoproteomics Approach to Elucidate Neuropeptide Signal Transduction Controlling Insect Metamorphosis 39: 475-483 Insect Molec Bio. and Biochem

Merino, C., González, M., Penney, J., Moujahidine, M., O’Connor, M.B., Verheyen E.M., and Haghighi, P. (2009) Nemo kinase interacts with Mad to coordinate synaptic growth at the Drosophila NMJ. Journal of Cell Science 185: 713-725

Umulis, D.M., O’Connor, M.B., and Blair, S.S, (2009) Extracellular regulation of BMP signaling. Development 136: 3715-3728.

Carlson, E.S., Tkac, I., Mafid, R., O’Connor, M.B., Andrews, N.C., Schallert, T., Gunshin, H., Petryk, A., and Georgieff, M.K. (2009) Iron is Essential for Neuron Development and Memory Function in Mouse Hippocampus. J. Nutrition 139: 672-9