Andrew Tomlinson, PhD

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Academic Appointments

  • Professor of Genetics and Development (in Neuroscience)
During the development of multicellular organisms cells differentiate according to the various developmental pathways into which they are directed. Understanding the mechanisms that direct such developmental decisions is key to understanding the phenomenon of development as a whole. The differentiation pathway that a cell adopts can be influenced either by directives it inherits from its progenitors or by the way it assesses environmental signals. These environmental signals are usually molecules secreted from other cells and the research in essence focuses upon the biochemical nature of cell signaling in development and the control of cell fate. We use the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster as a model system with which to analyze developmental decisions. Using the genetic wealth of this organism we are able to identify key genes involved in the choice of developmental pathways. We predict the phenotypes of mutations in genes involved in the developmental decisions and then screen for them. Having a mutation in a gene then allows us to isolate it and sequence it to establish the type of protein encoded. The genes can then be reintroduced into the organism and expressed inappropriately to assay the effects of ectopic expression. Since we are largely looking at cell signaling mechanisms, we systematically build a molecular picture of how one cell is able to influence the developmental fate of another. Put another way, we are looking at the biochemistry of signal release, signal reception and interpretation, and subsequent cell differentiation.


  • Male


Cellular interactions in Drosophila development.

Cells in developing tissues are directed to their appropriate differentiation fate by signals they receive from other cells. A key goal is to understand the mechanisms by which cells produce and release the signals and the processes by which other cells receive and interpret those signals. We examine these processes in the developing fruit fly in both neural and non-neural tissues. The retina is ideally suited for the study of short range signaling, and our investigations focus on how specific photoreceptor cell fates are directed by the intercellular signaling mechanisms. We are also investigating long-range signaling mechanism that direct developmental behavior of cells, both in the retina and in non-neural tissues such as the wing and leg.

Research Interests

  • Cellular Interactions in Drosophila Development
  • Cell Specification and Differentiation



Sep 1 2016 - Jul 31 2020


Sep 1 2013 - Aug 31 2018


Jan 1 1998 - Jan 31 2014


May 1 1999 - Mar 31 2013

Selected Publications

Tomlinson, A. (2003). Patterning the peripheral retina of the fly: decoding a gradient. Developmental Cell 5, 799-809  PMID: 14602079

Chen,C. M., Strapps, W., Tomlinson, A., and Struhl, G. (2004). Evidence that the cysteine-rich domain of Drosophila Frizzled family receptors is dispensable for transducing Wingless. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 101 (45), 15061-15066  PMID: 15514021

Apionishev, S., Katanayeva, N.M., Marks, S., Kalderon, D. and Tomlinson, A. (2005) Drosophila Smoothened phosphorylation sites essential for Hedgehog Signal Transduction.  Nature Cell Biology  7(1), 86-92  PMID: 15592457

Katanaev, KL, Ponzielli, R. Sémériva, M. and Tomlinson, A. (2005) Trimeric G-protein-dependent Frizzled signaling in Drosophila.  Cell 120, 111-122. PMID: 15652486

Blair A, Tomlinson A, Pham H, Gunsalus KC, Goldberg ML, Laski FA. (2006)  Twinstar, the Drosophila homolog of cofilin/ADF, is required for planar cell polarity patterning.  Development.133 (9):1789-97

Lim, H-Y, and Tomlinson, A. (2006)  Organization of the peripheral fly eye: the roles of Snail family transcription factors in peripheral apoptosis. Development.133(18):3529-37 PMID: 16914498

Katanaev, KL, and Tomlinson, A. (2006)  Dual roles for  the trimeric G protein Go in asymmetric cell division of Drosophila.  Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2006 Apr 25;103(17):6524-9. Epub 2006 Apr 14. PMID: 16617104

Katanaev, KL, and Tomlinson, A. (2006)  Multiple roles of a trimeric G protein in Drosophila cell polatization.  Cell Cycle  2006 Nov 1;5(21):2464-72. Epub 2006 Sep 13. Review.  PMID: 17102631

Sato, A. and Tomlinson, A. (2007) Dorsal-ventral midline signaling in the developing Drosophila eye. Development. 2007 Feb;134(4):659-67. PMID: 17215299

Tomlinson, A., Mavromatakis, Y.E., and Struhl,G.  (2011) Three distinct roles for notch in Drosophila R7 photoreceptor specification. PLoS Biol. Aug;9(8):e1001132. PMID: 21886484

Wang, J.W., Brent, J.R., Tomlinson A, Shneider, N.A., and McCabe, B.D. (2011) The ALS-associated proteins FUS and TDP-43 function together to affect Drosophila locomotion and life span. J Clin Invest. Oct;121(10):4118-26. PMID: 21881207

Mavromatakis, Y.E., and Tomlinson, A. (2012) The role of the small GTPase Rap in Drosophila R7 photoreceptor specification.  Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. Mar 6;109(10):3844-9. PMID: 22355117

Tomlinson, A  (2012) The origin of the Drosophila subretinal pigment layer. J Comp Neurol. Aug 15;520(12):2676-82. PMID: 22684937

Mavromatakis, Y.E., and Tomlinson, A.  (2012) Stop and Go: Antagonistic signals in the specification of the Drosophila R7 photoreceptor viewed from an evolutionary perspective.  Fly Oct-Dec;6(4):228-33 (Review). PMID: 22878552

Mavromatakis, Y.E., and Tomlinson, A.  (2013) Switching cell fates in the developing Doropshila eye.  Development  (in press)