ken Moberg, PhD

Emory University SChool of Medicine

Department of Cell Biology

and Winship Cancer Center


A Drosophila Model of Human Intellectual Disability

Our science...


A main focus of our laboratory is understanding the genetic circuitry that controls the process of tissue growth in developing muticellular organisms. We use the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster as a convenient and powerful model system to approach this biological problem and make extensive use of the latest genetic tools to identify growth regulatory genes and characterize their roles in cell proliferation and apoptosis. We are currently studying:


     - Regulatory inputs and novel components of the Hippo/Mst2

       tumor suppressor pathway

     - Endocytic control of adhesion, signaling, and

       epithelial polarity

     - Developmental roles and regulation of the Archipelago  

       F-box/WD-repeat ubiquitin ligase specificity subunit and

       tumor suppressor protein

     - Novel ‘conditional’ tumor promoting mutations that

       collaborate with a block in apoptosis to drive organ

       hypertrophy or neoplasia.

Developmental Control of Tissue Growth

The laboratory also has a rapidly developing interest in the genetic basis of a novel form of heritable intellectual disability (ID; aka mental retardation) linked to mutations in the dNab2/ZC3H14 polyadenosine RNA binding protein. Together with colleagues in Atlanta, Berlin (Germany), and Tehran (Iran), we identified ZC3H14 mutations in human families with heritable non-syndromic ID and showed that the fly homolog of this protein, which is termed dNab2, is required in neurons for normal behavior. We have since uncovered evidence of a role for dNab2 in learning & memory, and in the control of axonal pathfinding in the brain. We are actively engaged in identifying neuronal pathways and mRNAs regulated by dNab2.

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