Michael B. O'Connor, Ph.D.

Professor and Department Chairperson, 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.)

  • Makhijani K, Alexander B, Rao D, Petraki S, Herboso L, Kukar K, Batool I, Wachner S, Gold KS, Wong C, O'Connor MB, Brückner K. Regulation of Drosophila hematopoietic sites by Activin-β from active sensory neurons. Nat Commun. 2017 Jul 27;8:15990
  • Pisansky MT, Young AE, O'Connor MB, Gottesman II, Bagchi A, Gewirtz JC. Mice lacking the chromodomain helicase DNA-binding 5 chromatin remodeler display autism-like characteristics. Transl Psychiatry. 2017 Jun 13;7(6):e1152. 
  • Upadhyay A, Moss-Taylor L, Kim MJ, Ghosh AC, O'Connor MB. TGF-β family signaling in drosophila. Cold Spring Harb Perspect Biol. 2017 Sep 1;9(9).
  • Danielsen ET, Moeller ME, Yamanaka N, Ou Q, Laursen JM, Soenderholm C, Zhuo R, Phelps B, Tang K, Zeng J, Kondo S, Nielsen CH, Harvald EB, Faergeman NJ, Haley MJ, O'Connor KA, King-Jones K, O'Connor MB, Rewitz KF. A Drosophila genome-wide screen identifies regulators of steroid hormone rroduction and developmental timing. Dev Cell. 2016;37(6):558-570.
  • SSchiesari L, Andreatta G, Kyriacou CP, O'Connor MB, Costa R. The insulin-like proteins dILPs-2/5 determine diapause inducibility in drosophila. PLoS One. 2016 Sep 30;11(9):e0163680.
  • Komura-Kawa T, Hirota K, Shimada-Niwa Y, Yamauchi R, Shimell M, Shinoda T, Fukamizu A, O'Connor MB, Niwa R. The Drosophila zinc finger transcription factor ouija board controls ecdysteroid biosynthesis through specific regulation of spookier. PLoS Genet. 2015 Dec 10;11(12):e1005712
  • Van Bortle K, Peterson AJ, Takenaka N, O'Connor MB, Corces VG. CTCF-dependent co-localization of canonical Smad signaling factors at architectural protein binding sites in D. melanogaster. Cell Cycle. 2015;14(16):2677-2687.
  • McBrayer ZL, Dimova J, Pisansky MT, Sun M, Beppu H, Gewirtz JC, O'Connor MB. Forebrain-specific loss of BMPRII in mice reduces anxiety and increases object exploration. PLoS One. 2015 Oct 7;10(10):e0139860.
  • Yamanaka N, Marqués G, O'Connor MB. Vesicle-mediated steroid hormone secretion in Drosophila melanogaster. Cell. 2015;163(4):907-919.
  • Ghosh AC, Shimell M, Leof ER, Haley MJ, O'Connor MB. UPRT, a suicide-gene therapy candidate in higher eukaryotes, is required for Drosophila larval growth and normal adult lifespan. Sci Rep. 2015 Aug 14;5:13176.
  • Fresán U, Cuartero S, O'Connor MB, Espinàs ML. The insulator protein CTCF regulates Drosophila steroidogenesis. Biol Open. 2015;4(7):852-857.
  • Kim MJ, O'Connor MB. Anterograde Activin signaling regulates postsynaptic membrane potential and GluRIIA/B abundance at the Drosophila neuromuscular junction. PLoS One. 2014 Sep 25;9(9):e107443.
  • Danielsen ET, Moeller ME, Dorry E, Komura-Kawa T, Fujimoto Y, Troelsen JT, Herder R, O'Connor MB, Niwa R, Rewitz KF. Transcriptional control of steroid biosynthesis genes in the Drosophila prothoracic gland by ventral veins lacking and knirps. PLoS Genet. 2014 Jun 19;10(6):e1004343.
  • 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;111(15):5729-34.
  • 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;81(4):830-46.
  • Yamanaka N, Romero NM, Martin FA, Rewitz KF, Sun M, O'Connor MB, Léopold P. Neuroendocrine control of Drosophila larval light preference. Science. 2013;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;25(14):1459-1463.
  • Yamanaka N, O'Connor MB. Apiology: royal secrets in the queen's fat body. Curr Biol. 2011;21(13):R510-512.
  • Awasak T, Huang Y, O’Connor MB, Lee T. Glia instruct developmental neuronal remodeling through TGF-ß signaling.  Nat Neurosci 2011;14: 821-823
  • Gibbens YY, Warren JT, Gilbert LI, O'Connor MB. Neuroendocrine regulation of Drosophila metamorphosis requires TGFbeta/Activin signaling. Development. 2011;138(13):2693-703.
Michael O'Connor