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Seth S. Blair

Research  | Teaching  |  Publications 

315 Zoo Research
Office: (608) 262-1345
Lab: (608) 262-1426
Cellular & Molecular Biology

Neuroscience Training Program

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Research Interests

    Dr. Blair's laboratory studies developmental biology, using molecular and genetic techniques to examine how cell signaling and cell lineage control axis formation, tissue patterning, cell polarity and organ growth. The Blair Lab has concentrated largely on the model systems provided by the fruitfly Drosophila melanogaster, and especially the simple ectodermal and neuronal tissues of the developing wing. Dr. Blair also worked on segmentation, cell lineage and cell interactions in annelid worms when he was a graduate student and postdoc in the Stent and Shankland labs.

    Recent work from the Blair lab has concentrated on two areas. First, the lab examines how organ growth, proximo-distal patterning and planar cell polarity (PCP) are controlled via signaling through the protocadherins Fat and Dachsous. These signaling molecules are genetically linked to PCP and the growth-controlling Hippo pathways in both flies and humans, and the lab is using various genetic and biochemical techniques to examine the molecular bases for these effects. Second, the lab studies how the levels and range of developmental signaling are regulated by extracellular ligand-binding proteins, concentrating especially on the regulation of Hedgehog, Wnt/Wingless and BMP signaling by proteins like Shifted/WIF-1, Crossveinless 2/BMPER, Crossveinless/Tsg2, Crossveinless d, Sog/Chordin and various extracellular proteases. The lab also has a long-term interest in the compartmental lineage boundaries in Drosophila and their role in boundary-specific signaling and axis specification.

    For more details, see the lab's website at:

    Dr. Blair's research is currently funded by the National Institutes for Health, with past additional support from the National Science Foundation.

    The Blair Lab trains graduate students from the Department of Zoology, the Genetics Training Program, the Cell and Molecular Biology Training Program, and the Neuroscience Training Program. The Lab also trains postdoctoral fellows, and 1-3 undergraduates per semester either via the Independent Project portion of Biology 152 or through 699 research classes.

    Dr. Blair is also heavily involved in undergraduate education, especially through the Introductory Biology 151/153-152 course, of which he is the Faculty Director, the Zoology 523 Neuroscience course, and the Zoology 625 course on the development of the nervous system.



    Zoology 151 - Introductory Biology
    Zoology 523 - Neurobiology
    Zoology 625 - Development of the Nervous System
    Zoology 965 - Seminars in Developmental Biology

    Graduate students currently supervised:

    Kassi Crocker ( Genetics Ph.D. student

    Graduate students supervised who earned graduate degrees:

    Eric Rulifson (Ph.D. Neuroscience Training Program, 1996) Mechanisms of cell interaction and cell specification during wing margin development in Drosophila.

    Craig Micchelli (Ph.D. Neuroscience Training Program, 1999)
         Mechanisms of pattern formation in the wing imaginal disc of Drosophila : A study of cell signaling at the dorso-ventral boundary using genetic mosaic analysis.

    Catherine Conley (Ph.D. Zoology, 2000) Abstract
         Molecular and genetic analysis of cross vein patterning in the wing of Drosophila melanogaster.

    Amy Ralston (Ph.D. Zoology, 2004) Abstract
         The role of signaling pathways in the specification of veins and lineage boundaries in the wing of Drosophila .

    Catherine A. Miller (Ph.D. CMB, 2004)
        shifted , the Drosophila homolog of the human Wnt inhibitory factor 1, is involved in the Hedgehog signaling pathway.

    W. Elizabeth Jones (M.S. CMB, 2004)
        The cv-d and det loci: mapping and characterization of genetic interactions with the crossveinless loci cv, cv-2 and cv-c”.

    Dave Olson (Ph.D. Zoology, 2009) The role of Dystrophin, Cap n’ collar and Crossveinless 2 in the patterning of the crossveins of Drosophila melanogaster.

    Andrei S. Avanesov (Ph.D. Genetics, 2010) Extracellular regulation of Hedgehog and Wnt signaling during Drosophila wing development.

    Jun Chen (Ph.D. Genetics, 2011) crossveinless d encodes a vitellogenin domain lipoprotein required for BMP signaling in the formation of the posterior crossvein in Drosophila.

    Justin Schleede (Ph.D. Genetics, 2011) A mosaic screen in the Drosophila wing to identify novel regulators of BMP signaling.

Selected Publications

  • Avanesov, A. and Blair, S.S. (2012). The Drosophila WIF1 homolog Shifted maintains glypican-independent short-range Hedgehog signaling and interacts with the Hedgehog co-receptors Ihog and Boi. Development 140, 107-116. PMID: 23154411; PMCID: PMC3513995.
  • Blair, S.S. (2012). Overdosing on PCPs. Curr. Biol. 22, R567-269. PMID: 22835790
  • Chen, J., Honeyager, S.M., Schleede, J., Avanesov, A, Laughon, A and Blair, S.S. (2012). Crossveinless d is a vitellogenin-like lipoprotein that binds BMPs and HSPGs, and is required for normal BMP signaling in the Drosophila wing. Development 139, 2170-2176. PMID: 22573617; PMCID: PMC3357910
  • Matakatsu, H. and Blair, S.S. (2012). Separating planar cell polarity and Hippo pathway activities of the protocadherin Fat. Development 139, 1498-1508. PMID: 22399682; PMCID: PMC3308182.
  • Avanesov, A., Honeyager, S.M., Malicki, M. and Blair, S.S. (2012). The role of glypicans in Wnt Inhibitory Factor 1 activity and the structural basis of Wif1’s effects on Wnt and Hedgehog signaling. PLOS Genetics Feb;8(2):e1002503. Epub 2012 Feb 23. PMID: 22383891; PMCID: PMC3285576.
  • Umulis, D., O’Connor, M.B. and Blair, S.S. (2009). Extracellular regulation of bone morphogenetic protein signaling. Development 136, 3715-3728. PMCID: PMC2766339
  • Sopko, R., Gardano, L., Barrios-Rodiles, M., Wrana, J., Shaw, S., Silva, E., Saburi, S., Clayton, L., Matakatsu, H., Blair, S.S. and McNeill, H. (2009). Phosphorylation of the tumor suppressor Fat is regulated by its ligand Dachsous and the kinase Discs Overgrown. Curr. Biol. 9, 1112-1117. PMCID: PMC2851237
  • Blair, S.S. (2008). Primer: segmentation in animals. Curr. Biol. 18, R991-995. PMID 19000806
  • Matakatsu, H. and Blair, S.S. (2008). The DHHC palmitoyltransferase Approximated regulates Fat signaling and Dachs subcellular localization and activity. Curr. Biol. 18, 1390-1395. PMCID: PMC2597019
  • Serpe, M.*, Umulis, D.*, Ralston, A., Chen, J., Olson, D.J., Avanesov, A., Othmer, H., O’Connor, M.B. and Blair, S.S. (2008). The BMP binding protein Crossveinless 2 is a short-range, concentration -dependent, biphasic modulator of BMP signaling in Drosophila. Dev. Cell 14, 940-953. PMCID: PMC2488203
  • Blair, S.S. (2007). Wing vein patterning in Drosophila and the analysis of intercellular signaling. Ann. Rev. Cell Dev. Biol. 23, 293-319. PMID 17506700
  • Matakatsu, H. and Blair, S.S. (2006). Separating the adhesive and signaling functions of the Fat and Dachsous protocadherins. Development 133, 2315-2324. PMID 16687445
  • O'Connor, M.B., Umulis, D., Othmer, H. and Blair, S.S. (2006). Shaping BMP morphogen gradients in the Drosophila embryo and pupal wing. Development 133, 183-193
  • Shimmi, O.*, Ralston, A.*, Blair, S.S., and O'Connor, M.B. (2005). The crossveinless gene encodes a new member of the Twisted gastrulation family of BMP binding proteins which, with Short gastrulation, promotes BMP signaling in the crossveins of the Drosophila wing. Dev. Biol. 282, 70-83. (*co-first authors)
  • Serpe, M., Ralston, A., Blair, S.S., and O'Connor, M.B. (2005). Matching catalytic activity to developmental function: Tolloid-related processes Sog to help specify the posterior crossvein in the Drosophila wing. Development 132, 2645-2656.
  • Ralston, A., and Blair, S.S. (2005). Long-range Dpp signaling is regulated to restrict BMP signaling to a crossvein competent zone. Dev. Biol. 280, 187-200.
  • Blair, S.S. (2005). Cell Signaling: Wingless and Glypicans together again. Curr. Biol. 15, R92-R94.
  • Glise, B.*, Miller, C.A.*, Crozatzier, M., Halbisen, M.A., Wise, S., Olson, D., Vincent, A., and Blair, S.S. (2005). Shifted, the Drosophila orthologue of Wnt Inhibitory Factor-1, controls the distribution and movement of Hedgehog. Dev. Cell 8, 255-266. (*co-first authors)
  • Blair, S.S. (2004). Developmental biology: Notching the hindbrain. Curr. Biol. 14, R570-R572.
  • Matakatsu, H. and Blair, S.S. (2004). Interactions between Fat and Dachsous and the regulation of planar cell polarity in the Drosophila wing. Development 131, 3785-3794.
  • Blair, S.S. (2003). Mosaic techniques in Drosophila . Development , 130, 5065-5072.
  • Blair, S.S. (2003). Boundary lines. Nature 424, 379-381.
  • Blair, S.S. (2003). Lineage compartments in Drosophila . Curr. Biol . 14, R548-R551.
  • Blair, S.S. (2003). Imaginal discs. In The Encyclopedia of Insects (ed. V.H. Resh and R. Cardé), pp. 552-555, Academic Press, San Diego.
  • Blair, S.S. (2001). Cell lineage: Compartments and Capricious (invited Dispatch). Curr. Biol . 11, R1017-1021.
  • Blair, S.S. (2001a) . Wnts, signaling and sulfates. Science STKE (online 9/25/01).
  • Blair, S.S. (2000b). Notch signaling: Fringe really is a glycosyltransferase (invited Dispatch). Current Biol. 10, R608-612.
  • Conley, C.A., Silburn, R., Singer, M.A., Ralston, A., Rohwer-Nutter, D., Olson, D.J., Gelbart, W. and Blair, S.S. (2000). Crossveinless 2 contains cysteine-rich domains and is required for high levels of BMP-like activity during the formation of the cross veins in Drosophila . Development 127, 3947-3959.
  • Micchelli, C.A. and Blair, S.S. (1999). Dorso-ventral lineage restriction in wing imaginal discs requires Notch. Nature 401, 473-476.
  • Blair, S.S. (1999). Drosophila imaginal disc development: patterning the adult fly. In Development-Genetics, Epigenetics and Environmental Regulation , (V.E.A. Russo, D. Cove, L. Edgar, R. Jaenisch, F. Salamini, eds), Chpt. 21, pp. 347-370. Springer, Heidelberg.
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