Biosciences Graduate Program

Douglas W. Houston, PhD


Professor of Biology

Contact Information

Office: 257 Biology Building (BB)
Iowa City, IA 52242
Phone: 319-335-1316

Web: More About Dr. Houston - Related Websites and Resources


BS, Molecular Biology, Florida Institute of Technology
PhD, Developmental Biology, University of Miami School of Medicine

Post Doctorate, Developmental Biology, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center

Education/Training Program Affiliations

Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Genetics
Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Molecular and Cellular Biology
Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Translational Biomedicine
Medical Scientist Training Program

Research Summary

In many vertebrate eggs, fertilization initiates cortical/cytoplasmic rearrangements (cortical rotation), resulting in the transport of critical determinants to the future dorsal side. In the frog Xenopus, this event is mediated by microtubules and causes the localized activation of the Wnt signaling pathway dorsally. Wnts are key growth factors involved in many aspects of development and are often misregulated in cancers and other diseases. Similar cytoplasmic localizations and Wnt activation occur in many chordate embryos, suggesting a deeply conserved mechanism for patterning early embryos. Our lab is currently pursuing several main avenues of investigation: (1) identifying and characterizing the roles of asymmetrically-localized mRNAs and proteins in early dorsal axis formation, (2) elucidating mechanisms of microtubule assembly during cortical rotation and (3) determining how Wnt signaling is initiated and regulated on the dorsal side. We are addressing these questions using reverse-genetic antisense approaches in the amphibian Xenopus laevis. Additionally, we are beginning to explore bona fide genetic manipulation of these processes in the genetically-tractable diploid frog species, Xenopus tropicalis. Houston Lab PubMed search:

Center, Program and Institute Affiliations

Alfred P. Sloan Center for Exemplary Mentoring

Date Last Modified: 07/07/2016 - 15:05:10