Graduate Studies Faculty

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Alex Nechiporuk, PhD

Associate Professor
Admin Unit: SOM-Cell, Developmental & Cancer Biology Department
Phone: (503) 494-8995
Lab Phone: (503) 494-1294
Office: Basic Science Rm5369
Mail Code: L215
Cell & Developmental Biology
Neuroscience Graduate Program
Program in Molecular & Cellular Biosciences
Research Interests:
zebrafish axonal transport neuron development lateral line sensory systems » Click here for more about Dr. Nechiporuk's research
Preceptor Rotations
Academic Term Available Summer 2016 Yes Fall 2016 Yes Winter 2016 Yes Spring 2017 Yes
Faculty Mentorship
Dr. Nechiporuk is available as a mentor for 2016-2017.

My lab is interested in understanding how naïve progenitor cells segregate to give rise to diverse cell types that eventually form an organ. The question of organ formation is even more profound and challenging when applied to a vertebrate nervous system, where hundreds of cell types exist. We address this question in the context of cranial placodes, placode-derived sensory ganglia, and zebrafish lateral line system.  The improper development of placode-derived sensory components of the peripheral nervous system, which are essential for the formation of cranial sensory systems such as somatosensation, and taste, have been implicated in many human disorders, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, migraines, bladder overactivity, erectile dysfunction, heart failure, arrhythmia, and others. Thus, uncovering genes that specify cranial placodes and ganglia should provide better understanding for the mechanisms underlying these disorders.

In addition to cranial placodes and ganglia, we also study development of mechanosensory organ system, called lateral line. The mechanosensory lateral line system of aquatic vertebrates is used to detect displacement of water and controls various types of swimming behavior.  Lateral line provides an excellent system for studying basic biological processes, such as collective migration, cell specification, morphogenesis, patterning, and proliferation in the genetically-tractable model system such as zebrafish.

We have also developed zebrafish as a model system for studying axonal transport. Within individual neurons, various types of cargo must be actively transported to specific compartments. For example, in the axon, synaptic proteins are targeted to axon terminals, while growth factors are often transported back to the cell body. This is accomplished primarily by microtubule-based transport mediated by two types of molecular motors, kinesins and dyneins, that respectively move cargo away from and towards the cell body.

Potential rotation projects include:
Determining  function of various genes expressed during cranial placodes and lateral line development.
Preliminary characterization of mutants defective in axonal transport.
Characterization of novel transgenic lines.
Always open to good project suggestions.

Related Publications:


  • Drerup CM, Lusk S, Nechiporuk AV (2016). Kif1B interacts with KBP to promote axon elongation by localizing a microtubule regulator to growth cones. In press, J Neurosci.
  • Drerup CM, Nechiporuk AV. (2016). In vivo analysis of axonal transport in zebrafish. Methods Cell Biol. 2016;131:311-29. doi: 10.1016/bs.mcb.2015.06.007. PMID: 26794521.
  • Harding, M.J., McGraw, H.F., Nechiporuk, A. (2014) The roles and regulation of multicellular rosette structures during morphogenesis. Development, 141 (13) 2549-2558. PMID: 24961796.
  • McGraw HF, Culbertson MD, and Nechiporuk AV. (2014). Kremen1 restricts Dkk activity during posterior lateral line development in zebrafish. Development. 2014 Aug;141(16):3212-21. Jul 18. PMID:25038040.
  • Drerup CM and Nechiporuk AV. (2013). JNK-interacting protein 3 mediates the retrograde transport of activated c-Jun N-terminal kinase and lysosomes. PLoS Genetics, Feb;9(2):e1003303. PMID:23468645.
  • Harding MJ and Nechiporuk AV. Fgfr-Ras-MAPK signaling is required for apical constriction via apical positioning of Rho-associated kinase during mechanosensory organ formation. (2012).Development. Sep;139(17):3130-5.
  • Matthew N. McCarroll, Zachary R. Lewis, Maya Deza Culbertson, Benjamin L. Martin, David Kimelman, Alex V. Nechiporuk. (2012). Graded levels of Pax2a and Pax8 regulate cell differentiation during sensory placode formation.Development, Aug;139(15):2740-50.
  • Maya D. Culbertson, Zachary R. Lewis, Alex V. Nechiporuk. (2011). Chondrogenic and gliogenic subpopulations of neural crest play distinct roles during the assembly of epibranchial ganglia. PloS ONE, 6(9):e24443.
  • Gokhan Dalgin, Andrea B Ward, Le T Hao, Christine E Beattie, Alex Nechiporuk, and Victoria E Prince. (2011). Zebrafish mnx1 controls cell fate choice in the developing endocrine pancreas. Development, Nov;138(21):4597-608. PMID:21989909.
  • Hillary F. McGraw, Catherine M. Drerup, Maya D. Culbertson, Tor Linbo, David W. Raible, Alex V. Nechiporuk. (2011). Lef1 is required for progenitor cell identity in the zebrafish lateral line primordium. Development, 138:3921-3930. PMID: 21862556.
  • Mo W, Chen F, Nechiporuk A, Nicolson T. (2010) Quantification of vestibular-induced eye movements in zebrafish larvae. BMC Neurosci. 2010 Sep 3;11(1). PMID: 20815905.
  • Nechiporuk A and Raible DW. (2008). FGF-Dependent Mechanosensory Organ Patterning in Zebrafish. Science. 27;320(5884):1774-7.
  • Nechiporuk A, Linbo T, Poss KD, and Raible DW. (2007).  Specification of epibranchial placodes in zebrafish. Development. 134:611-23
  • Nechiporuk A, Linbo T, and Raible DW. (2005). Endoderm-derived Fgf3 is necessary and sufficient to induce neurogenesis in the epibranchial placodes in zebrafish. Development 132:3717-30.

Other Zebrafish Publications:
Poss KD, Nechiporuk A, Stringer KF, Lee C, Keating MT. (2004). Germ cell aneuploidy in zebrafish with mutations in the mitotic checkpoint gene mps1. Genes Dev 18:1527-32.

Nechiporuk A, Poss KD, Johnson SL, Keating MT. (2003). Positional cloning of a temperature-sensitive mutant emmental reveals a role for Sly1 during cell proliferation in zebrafish fin regeneration. Dev Biol 15;258:291-306.

Poss KD, Keating MT, & Nechiporuk A. (2002). Tales of regeneration in zebrafish. Dev Dyn 226: 202-10 (Review).

Poss KD, Nechiporuk A, Hillam AM, Johnson SL, Keating MT.  (2002). Mps1 defines a proximal blastemal proliferative compartment essential for zebrafish fin regeneration.  Development 129:5141-5149.

Nechiporuk A & Keating MT. (2002). A proliferation gradient between proximal and msxb-expressing distal blastema directs zebrafish fin regeneration. Development 129: 2607-2617.

Poss KD, Shen J, Nechiporuk A, McMahon G, Thisse B, Thisse C, Keating MT. (2000). Roles for Fgf signaling during zebrafish fin regeneration. Dev Biol 222(2):347-58.

Nechiporuk A, Finney JE, Keating MT, Johnson SL. (1999). Assessment of polymorphism in zebrafish mapping strains. Genome Res 9(12):1231-8.