Andrew Spracklen

Mentor: Tina Tootle, PhD

Year Entered Into Program: 2009-2014

PhD Institution: University of Iowa, 2014


  • Molecular and Cellular Biology Graduate Program

Research Description

Prostaglandins (PGs), small bioactive lipids, are synthesized at their sites of action by cyclooxygenase (COX) enzymes and mediate a wide array of biological activities including pain, inflammation, fertility, immune function, and cancer progression (both tumor growth and metastasis). Recently, Dr. Tootle has identified the Drosophila COX1 enzyme, Pxt, and has demonstrated that both genetic loss of Pxt as well as pharmacologic inhibition of COX1 activity disrupts Drosophila oogenesis by blocking nurse cell dumping, an actin dependent processes required for follicle maturation, thus providing a novel model for exploring the function of prostaglandins and their downstream signaling pathways utilizing both genetic and pharmacologic approaches. Lasting just thirty minutes, Drosophila nurse cell dumping is a highly dynamic process requiring spatial and temporal coordination of active actin cytoskeletal remodeling in order for the nurse cells to supply their cytoplasmic contents to the oocyte. These dynamic processes are highlighted by rapid assembly of cytoplasmic actin filament bundles and increases in cortical actin. Preliminary data indicates that PG signaling is involved in both the temporal and spatial control of these actin structures. My goals are to 1) Characterize the enzymatic activity of Pxt, 2) Determine how PG signaling acts to spatially and temporally regulate actin dynamics and 3) Determine the mechanism by which PG signaling facilitates rapid actin cytoskeletal rearrangements.


Groen, C.M.*, Spracklen, A.J.*,:  Fagan TN, Tootle, TL. (2012) Fascin – a novel downstream target of prostaglandin signaling during actin remodeling. Molecular Biology Cell. 23(23):4567-4578, 2012.  PMCID: PMC3510018 Spracklen, A.J. and Tootle, T.L.:  The utility of stage specific mid-to-late Drosophila follicle isolation. Journal of Visualized Experiments. Under Review.         * Denotes shared first authorship.  


  • American Society for Cell Biology Predoctoral Travel Award, 2010
  • Molecular and Cellular Biology Retreat Travel Award for Best Poster, 2010
  • Molecular and Cellular Biology Retreat Travel Award for Best Presentation, 2012
  • National Science Foundation, 2012-present