Faculty & Research

Molecular Biology Faculty

Paul Schedl

Professor of Molecular BiologY

Paul Schedl


Phone (609) 258-4979
locationGuyot, 9
PhoneLab (609) 258-5003
Faculty Assistant
Anna Schmedel
Phone (609) 258-5028


Research Focus

Control of gene expression and early development in Drosophila melanogaster

The goal of our research is to understand how genetic regulatory mechanisms impact on the elaboration of developmental pathways—how are developmental pathways chosen and how is this choice of a pathway subsequently remembered. We have examined the mechanisms controlling pathway choice and pathway maintenance in three different D. melanogaster developmental systems.

Sex determination

Research on sex determination focuses on the binary switch gene Sex-lethal (Sxl). Sxl plays a pivotal role in the development of sexual dimorphism in the fruit fly. The special importance of Sxl may be understood by considering three of the central themes in development: 1) Pathway initiation: What mechanisms enable a cell to choose between alternative developmental programs? 2) Determination: Once that choice has been made, what mechanisms ensure that that cells remain committed to the correct pathway? 3) Differentiation: What mechanisms ensure the proper elaboration of the developmental program? Sxl is unusual in that it functions in all three of these processes. Additionally Sxl is of interest because its\' developmental functions are controlled by both transcriptional and post-transcriptional regulatory mechanisms. Pathway initiation depends upon a counting system that assess the X chromosome to autosome ratio and regulates the activity of the Sxl-establishment promoter, Sxl-Pe. The Sxl-Pe promoter is turned on female (2X/2A) cells while its kept off in male (1X/2A) cells. Protein products from the Sxl-Pe transcripts in females induce the permanent activation of the Sxl gene by directing the female-specific splicing of transcripts from the Sxl-maintenance promoter, Sxl-Pm. Once activated, the Sxl gene ensures that the female determined state is remembered during the rest development. The memory mechanism is an autoregulatory feed back loop in which Sxl proteins promote their own synthesis by directing the female splicing of Sxl-Pm pre-mRNAs. Finally Sxl orchestrates female differentiation by regulating several gene cascades at the level of splicing and translation.

Chromatin structure and developmental control mechanism

Research on chromatin structure focuses on the regulation of the homeotic Abd-B gene from BX-C. An elaborate cis-regulatory region is responsible for generating parasegment-specific expression of Abd-B. The region controls Abd-B expression in parasegments (PS)10-13 and is subdivided into 4 cis-regulatory domains: iab-5 (PS10), iab-6 (PS11), iab-7 (PS12) and iab-8 (PS13). Abd-B expression is divided into two phases: an initiation phase in which the gap and pair-rule segmentation genes activate the appropriate cis-regulatory domain and a memory phase in which Polycomb group and trithorax group genes maintain the parasegment specific cis-regulatory domains in the correct state, on or off. Each domain contains a unique set of initiator elements that respond to gap/pair-rule genes, and a set of maintenance elements that are targets for the Polycomb and trithorax group proteins. Critical to the functional autonomy of the cis-regulatory domains are chromatin boundary elements that insulate one domain from the adjacent domain. Studies underway are focused on one of the maintenance elements, the iab-7 Polycomb Response Element (PRE), and on two boundary elements Fab-7 and Fab-8 which flank the iab-7 cis-regulatory domain, insulating it from iab-7 and iab-8 respectively. Proteins that are critical for PRE or boundary function have been identified, and we are currently attempting to understand how these proteins contribute to either PRE or boundary activity. In related studies on chromatin structure we have shown that the zw5 gene encodes a protein component of the scs boundary. Multimerized binding sites for the Zw5 protein have boundary activity in vivo, and this activity is dependent on the zw5 gene.

Establishment of polarity in egg and embryo

mRNA localization plays a central role in the establishment of polarity axes in the Drosophila egg and embryo. A key component of the mRNA localization system is encoded by the orb gene. orb is essential for determining both the A-P and D-V axes of the developing egg chamber, and mutations in orb are found to prevent the proper localization of mRNAs required for these polarity axes such as osk, Bic-D, K(10), and gurken. orb encodes a germ-line specific RRM type RNA binding protein which is homologous to the Xenopus CPEB protein. In Xenopus, the CPEB protein controls the translation of masked mRNAs in developing oocytes. We have found that localized mRNAs such as osk, K(10) and Bic-D are not translated in orb mutant ovaries. In favor of a direct role in regulating the localization/translation of these mRNAs, we have found that Orb protein binds to their 3\'UTRs both in vivo and in vitro. One of the mRNAs bound by Orb protein in vivo is orb itself. Recent results indicate that Orb protein autoregulates its own on site expression by binding to localized orb mRNA and activating translation. The orb gene is weakly haploinsufficient and we taken advantage of this haploinsufficiency to devise genetic screens for other genes involved either in orb autoregulation or in the establishment of polarity.

Selected Publications

Fujioka M, Mistry H, Schedl P, Jaynes JB. (2016) Determinants of Chromosome Architecture: Insulator Pairing in cis and in trans. PLoS Genet. 2016 Feb 24;12(2):e1005889. PMCID: PMC4765946.

Barr J, Yakovlev KV, Shidlovskii Y, Schedl P. (2016) Establishing and maintaining cell polarity with mRNA localization in Drosophila. Bioessays. [Epub ahead of print]

Deshpande G, Nouri A, Schedl P. (2015) Wnt Signaling in Sexual Dimorphism. Genetics. [Epub ahead of print]

Erokhin M, Elizar'ev P, Parshikov A, Schedl P, Georgiev P, Chetverina D. (2015) Transcriptional read-through is not sufficient to induce an epigenetic switch in the silencing activity of Polycomb response elements. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 112(48):14930-5. Pubmed

Bieli D, Kanca O, ... Slattery M, Müller M, Estella C. (2015) Establishment of a developmental compartment requires interactions between three synergistic cis-regulatory modules. PLoS Genet.  11(10):e1005376. Pubmed

Wolle D, Cleard F, Aoki T, Deshpande G, Schedl P, Karch F. (2015) Functional requirements for Fab-7 boundary activity in the Bithorax Complex.  Mol Cell Biol.  35(21):3739-52. Pubmed

Bonchuk A, Maksimenko O, ... Wolle D, Schedl P, Georgiev P. (2015) Functional role of dimerization and CP190 interacting domains of CTCF protein in Drosophila melanogaster.  BMC Biol. 13:63. Pubmed

Kyrchanova O, Mogila V, Wolle D,.... Georgiev P, Schedl P. (2015) The boundary paradox in the Bithorax complex. Mech Dev.  138 Pt 2:122-32. Pubmed

Bieli D, Kanca O, Goh D, Denes A, Schedl P, Affolter M, Müller M. (2015) The Drosophila melanogaster Mutants apblot and apXasta Affect an Essential apterous Wing Enhancer. G3 (Bethesda). 5(6):1129-43. Pubmed

Barr J, Gordon D, Schedl P, Deshpande G. (2014) Xenotransplantation exposes the etiology of azoospermia factor (AZF) induced male sterility. Bioessays. 37:278-83. Pubmed

Xu S, Tyagi S, Schedl P. (2014) Spermatid cyst polarization in Drosophila depends upon apkc and the CPEB family translational regulator orb2. PLoS Genet. 10: e1004380. Pubmed

Deshpande G, Willis E, Chatterjee S, Fernandez R, Dias K, Schedl P. (2014) BMP signaling and the maintenance of primordial germ cell identity in Drosophila embryos. PLoS One. 9: e88847. Pubmed

Aoki T, Wolle D, Ben Noon EP, Dai Q, Lai EC, Schedl P. (2013) Bi-functional cross-linking reagents efficiently capture protein-DNA complexes in Drosophila embryos. Fly (Austin). 8: 43-51. Pubmed

Costa A, Pazman C, Sinsimer KS,...Schedl P. (2013) Rasputin functions as a positive regulator of orb in Drosophila oogenesis. PLoS One. 8: e72864. Pubmed

Deshpande G, Zhou K, Wan JY,....Schedl P. (2013) The hedgehog pathway gene shifted functions together with the hmgcr-dependent isoprenoid biosynthetic pathway to orchestrate germ cell migration. PLoS Genet. 9: e1003720. Pubmed

Aoki T, Sarkeshik A, Yates J, Schedl P. (2012) Elba, a novel developmentally regulated chromatin boundary factor is a hetero-tripartite DNA binding complex. elife. 1:e00171. Pubmed

Deshpande G, Spady E, Goodhouse J, Schedl P. (2012) Maintaining sufficient nanos is a critical function for polar granule component in the specification of primordial germ cells. G3 (Bethesda). 2: 1397-403. Pubmed

Wong LC, Schedl P. (2011) Cup blocks the precocious activation of the orb autoregulatory loop. PLoS One. 6: e28261. Pubmed

Hafer N, Xu S, Bhat KM, Schedl P. (2011) The Drosophila CPEB protein Orb2 has a novel expression pattern and is important for asymmetric cell division and nervous system function. Genetics. 189: 907-21. PubMed

Wong LC, Costa A, McLeod I,...Schedl P. (2011) The functioning of the Drosophila CPEB protein Orb is regulated by phosphorylation and requires casein kinase 2 activity. PLoS One. 6: e24355. PubMed

Graham PL, Yanowitz JL, Penn JK, Deshpande G, Schedl P. (2011) The translation initiation factor eIF4E regulates the sex-specific expression of the master switch gene Sxl in Drosophila melanogaster. PLoS Genet. 7: e1002185. PubMed

Gohl D, Aoki T, Blanton J, Shanower G, Kappes G, Schedl P. (2011) Mechanism of chromosomal boundary action: Roadblock, sink or loop? Genetics. 187: 731-48. PubMed

Kappes G, Deshpande G, Mulvey BB, Horabin JI, Schedl P. (2011) The Drosophila Myc gene, diminutive, is a positive regulator of the Sex-lethal establishment promoter, Sxl-Pe. Proc Natl Acad Sci. 108: 1543-48. PubMed

Deshpande G, Godishala A, Schedl P. (2009) Ggamma1, a downstream target for the hmgcr-isoprenoid biosynthetic pathway, is required for releasing the Hedgehog ligand and directing germ cell migration. PLoS Genet. 5: e1000333. PubMed

Tan L, Schedl P, Song HJ, Garza D, Konsolaki M. (2008) The Toll-->NFkappaB signaling pathway mediates the neuropathological effects of the human Alzheimer's Abeta42 polypeptide in Drosophila. PLoS ONE. 3: e3966. PubMed

Penn JK, Graham P, Deshpande G,...Schedl P. (2008) Functioning of the Drosophila Wilms'-tumor-1-associated protein homolog, Fl(2)d, in Sex-lethal-dependent alternative splicing. Genetics. 178: 737-48. PubMed

Aoki T, Schweinsberg S, Manasson J, Schedl P. (2007) A stage-specific factor confers Fab-7 boundary activity during early embryogenesis in Drosophila. Mol Cell Biol. 28: 1047-60. PubMed

Deshpande G, Sethi N, Schedl P. (2007) toutvelu (ttv), a regulator of heparan sulphate proteoglycan biosynthesis, controls guidance cues for germ cell migration. Genetics. 176: 905-12. PubMed

Penn JK, Schedl P. (2007) The master switch gene Sex-lethal promotes female development by negatively regulating the N-signaling pathway. Dev Cell. 12: 275-86. PubMed

Desphande G, Calhoun G, Schedl P. (2006) The Drosophila Fragile X protein, dFMR1, is required during early embryogenesis for pole cell formation and the rapid nuclear division cycles. Genetics. 174: 1287-98. PubMed

Shanower GA, Muller M, Blanton JL, Honti V, Gyurkovics H, Schedl P. (2005) Characterization of the grappa gene, the Drosophila histone H3 lysine 79 methyltransferase. Genetics. 169: 173-84. PubMed

Costa A, Wang Y, Dockendorff TC,...Schedl P, Jongens TA. (2005) The Drosophila fragile X protein functions as a negative regulator in the orb autoregulatory pathway. Dev Cell. 8: 331-42. PubMed

Deshpande G, Schedl P. (2005) HMGCoA reductase potentiates hedgehog signaling in Drosophila melanogaster. Dev Cell. 9: 629-38. PubMed

Deshpande G, Calhoun G, Schedl P. (2005) Drosophila argonaute-2 is required early in embryogenesis for the assembly of centric/centromeric heterochromatin, nuclear division, nuclear migration, and germ-cell formation. Genes Dev. 19: 1680-85. PubMed

Deshpande G, Calhoun G, Jinks TM, Polydorides AD and Schedl P. (2005) Nanos downregulates transcription and modulates CTD phosphorylation in the soma of early Drosophila embryos. Mech Dev. 122: 645-57. PubMed

Costa A, Wang Y, Dockendorff TC,...Schedl P, Jongens TA. (2005) The Drosophila fragile X protein functions as a negative regulator in the orb autoregulatory pathway. Dev Cell. 8: 331-42. PubMed

Schweinsberg SE, Schedl P. (2004) Developmental modulation of Fab-7 boundary function. Development. 131: 4743-49. PubMed

Schweinsberg S, Hagstrom K, Gohl D, Schedl P,...Karch F. (2004) The enhancer-blocking activity of the Fab-7 boundary from the Drosophila bithorax complex requires GAGA-factor-binding sites. Genetics. 168: 1371-84. PubMed

Deshpande G, Calhoun G and Schedl P. (2004) Overlapping mechanisms function to establish transcriptional quiescence in the embryonic Drosophila germline. Development. 131: 1247-57. PubMed

Blanton J, Gaszner M, Schedl P. (2003) Protein:protein interactions and the pairing of boundary elements in vivo. Genes Dev. 17: 664-75. PubMed

Schedl P, Broach JR. (2003) Making good neighbors: the right fence for the right job. Nat Struct Biol. 10: 241-43. PubMed

Tan L, Chang JS, Costa A, Schedl P. (2001) An autoregulatory feedback loop directs the localized expression of the Drosophila CPEB protein Orb in the developing oocyte. Development. 128: 1159-69. PubMed

Deshpande G, Swanhart L, Chiang P, Schedl P. (2001) Hedgehog signaling in germ cell migration. Cell. 106: 759-69. PubMed

Chang JS, Tan L, Wolf MR, Schedl P. (2001) Functioning of the Drosophila orb gene in gurken mRNA localization and translation. Development. 128: 3169-77. PubMed

Jinks TM, Polydorides AD, Calhoun G, Schedl P. (2000) The JAK/STAT signaling pathway is required for the initial choice of sexual identity in Drosophila melanogaster. Mol Cell. 5: 581-87. PubMed

Barges S, Mihaly J, Galloni M,...Schedl P,...Karch F. (2000) The Fab-8 boundary defines the distal limit of the bithorax complex iab-7 domain and insulates iab-7 from initiation elements and a PRE in the adjacent iab-8 domain. Development. 127: 779-90. PubMed

Yanowitz JL, Deshpande G, Calhoun G, Schedl PD. (1999) An N-terminal truncation uncouples the sex-transforming and dosage compensation functions of sex-lethal. Mol Cell Biol. 19: 3018-28. PubMed

Gaszner M, Vazquez J, Schedl P. (1999) The Zw5 protein, a component of the scs chromatin domain boundary, is able to block enhancer-promoter interaction. Genes Dev. 13: 2098-107. PubMed

Chang JS, Tan L, Schedl P. (1999) The Drosophila CPEB homolog, orb, is required for oskar protein expression in oocytes. Dev Biol 215: 91-106. PubMed


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