Michael O'Connor headshot
Office Address

515 Delaware Street SE
Minneapolis, MN 55455
United States


O'Connor, Ph.D.

Genetics, Cell Biology and Development

My lab is interested in how steroid hormones and polypeptide growth factors control physiology and developmental timing of insect metamorphosis and the growth and remodeling of juvenile tissues to those found in the the adult.

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Research interests

My lab’s primary area of interest in the lab to learn how cells communicate with one another during development. One group of signaling molecules that we study are the TGF-ß family of secreted polypeptides. This is the largest family of secreted "growth" factors with 33 members in vertebrates including TGF-ßs, Activin/Inhibins and bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs). These signaling factors influence a wide variety of cellular processes including tissue growth, differentiation, and death as well as metabolic and synaptic homeostasis. My lab is using genetic, molecular, biochemical and computational methods to analyze of these factors influence these important biological processes. Three recent areas of interest are to 1) determine the mechanisms responsible for trafficking of TGF-ß receptors to different locations in the cell 2) to identify targets of TGF-ß signaling that regulate cytoskeletal dynamics in developing tissues and 3) identify targets of TGF-ß signaling that regulate metabolic aspects of development and sensitivities to different nutrient sources.

The second general area of interest in the lab is to understand how timing of developmental processes is regulated. In many organisms systemically delivered steroid hormones modulate developmental transitions, including metamorphosis in insects and puberty in humans. We wish to identify the neuroendocrine signals that trigger steroid production and release in the fruit fly and we are also interested in characterizing the cell biology of steroid production and secretion in endocrine cells, including determining how biosynthetic intermediates are trafficked between the mitochondria and the ER and how steroids are exported and imported into tissues.

Selected publications

Herrera, S.C., de la Maza, D.S., Grmai, L., Margolis, S., Plessel, R., Burel, R., O'Connor, M.B., Amoyel, M., Bach, E. (2021) Proliferative stem cells maintain quiescence of their niche by secreting the Activin inhibitor Follistatin Dev Cell Aug 2;S1534-5807(21)00593-1.

Pan, X., and O’Connor, M.B., Coordination Among Multiple Receptor Tyrosine Kinase Signals Controls Drosophila Developmental Timing and Body Size. (2021) Cell Reports in press BioXriv doi.org/10.1101/2020.09.01.278382

Takemura, M., Bowden, N., Lu, Y.S., Nakato, E., O’Connor, M.B., and Hiroshi Nakato (2021) Drosophila MOV10 regulates the termination of midgut regeneration. Genetics 218(1):iyab031.

Hughson B.N., Shimell, M., O’Connor, M.B., (2021) AKH signaling in D. melanogaster alters larval development in a nutrient-dependent manner that influences adult metabolism. Frontiers in Physiology 12: 619219.

Kim, MJ., and O’Connor, M.B., (2021) Drosophila Activin signaling promotes muscle growth through InR/dTORC1 dependent and independent processes. Development 148(1): dev190868

Hauck A.K., Zhou, T., Upadhyay, A., Sun, Y., O’Connor, M.B., Chen, Y., Bernlohr, D.A., (2020) Histone Carbonylation Is A Redox-Regulated Epigenomic Mark That Accumulates With Obesity And Aging. Antioxidants 1;9(12):1210.

Pan, X., Connacher, R.P., and O’Connor, M.B., (2020) Control of the metamorphic transition by ecdysteroid production and secretion. Current Opinions in Insect Science S2214-5745(20)30113-9. doi: 10.1016/j.cois.2020.09.004.

Maselko, M., Feltman, N., Upadhyay, A., Hayward, A., Das, S., Myslicki, N., Peterson, A.J., O'Connor, M.B., Smanski, M., (2020) Engineering multiple species-like genetic incompatibilities in insects Nature communications 11(1):4468. PMID: 32901021

Bretscher, H., and O’Connor, M.B., (2020) The role of muscle in insect energy homeostasis. Frontiers in Physiology 11:580687.

Dimitriadou A, Chatzianastasi N, Zacharaki PI, O'Connor M, Goldsmith SL, O'Connor MB, Consoulas C, Newfeld SJ. (2020) Adult Movement Defects Associated with a CORL Mutation in Drosophila Display Behavioral Plasticity. G3 . doi: 10.1534/g3.120.400648.

Moss-Taylor L., Upadhyay, A., Kim, M-J , and O’Connor M.B. (2019) Motoneuron derived Activin beta regulates Drosophila body size and tissue scaling. Genetics in press

Pan, X., Neufeld, T., and O’Connor, M.B. (2019) Non-conventional autophagy controls a Drosophila nutritional checkpoint by altering cholesterol trafficking. Current biology 29: 2840-2851

Setiawan, L., Pan, X., Woods, A.L., O'Connor, M.B., Hariharan, I.K. (2018) The BMP2/4 ortholog Dpp can function as an inter-organ signal that regulates developmental timing. Life Sci. All. 1 (6)e201800216.

Peterson A.J. and O’Connor M.B.(2018) Lean on Me: Cell- Cell Interactions Release TGF- beta for Local Consumption Only. Cell.174(1):18-20. PMID: 29958107

Pan, X.,and O’Connor M.B.(2019) Developmental Maturation: Drosophila Ast provides a Kiss to grow up. Current Biology 29(5):p 161-164

Kanai MI, Kim MJ, Akiyama T, Takemura M, Wharton K, O'Connor MB, Nakato H. Regulation of neuroblast proliferation by surface glia in the Drosophila larval brain. (2018) Sci Rep. Feb 27;8(1):3730. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-22028-y.

Shimell M, Pan X, Martin FA, Ghosh AC, Leopold P, O'Connor MB, Romero NM. (2018) Prothoracicotropic hormone modulates environmental adaptive plasticity through the control of developmental timing. Development. 2018 Mar 14;145(6). pii: dev159699. doi: 10.1242/dev.159699.

Kaieda Y, Masuda R, Nishida R, Shimell M, O'Connor MB, Ono H. (2017) Glue protein production can be triggered by steroid hormone signaling independent of the developmental program in Drosophila melanogaster. Dev Biol. 2017 Oct 1;430(1):166-176. doi: 10.1016/j.ydbio.2017.08.002. Epub 2017 Aug 4.

Pisansky, M., Young, A.E., O'Connor, M.B., Gottesman, I.I., Bagchi, A., Gewirtz, J.C., (2017) Mice lacking the chromodomain helicase DNA-binding 5 chromatin remodeler display characteristics of autism. in press Translational Psychiatry

Kalpana Makhijani, K., BAlexander, B., Rao, D., Petraki, S., Herboso, L., Kukar, K., Batool, I., Wachner, S., Gold, K.S., Wong, C., O’Connor, M.B., and Brückner, K., (2017) An inducible signal from sensory neurons regulates the self renewing blood cell pool in Drosophila. (in press Nat. Cell Bio.)

Song W, Cheng D, Hong S, Sappe B, Hu Y, Wei N, Zhu C, O'Connor MB, Pissios P, Perrimon N. (2017) Migut Derived Activin Regulates Glucagon-like Action in the Fat Body and Glycemic Control. Cell Metab. 2017 Feb 7;25(2):386-399. doi: 10.1016/j.cmet.2017.01.002.

Upadhyay, A.,* Kim, M-J*, Moss-Taylor, L.,* Ghosh, A.C.,* and O’Connor, M.B., (2017) TGF-beta Family Signaling in Drosophila, Cold Spring Harbor Perspective Jan 27. pii: a022152. doi: 10.1101/cshperspect.a022152. [Epub ahead of print]

Schiesari, L., Andreatta, G., Kyriacou, C.P., O’Connor, M.B., and Costa, R. (2016) The Insulin-like Proteins dILPs-2/5 determine diapause inducibility in Drosophila. Plos One Sep 30;11(9):e0163680. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0163680.

Ou Q, Zeng J, Yamanaka, N., Brakken-Thal, C., O'Connor, M.B., King-Jones K. (2016) The insect prothoracic Gland as a Model for Steroid Hormone Biosynthesis and Regulation. Cell Reports, 16: 247-62

Moeller, E.,M., Danielsen, T., Yamanaka, N. Laursen, J.M., Sønderholm, C., Kondo, S., Harvald, E.B., Faergeman, N.J., Haley, M.J., O’Connor, K.A., King-Jones, K., O’Connor, M.B., Kim F. Rewitz (2016) A genome-wide in vivo screen in Drosophila identifies conserved regulators of cholesterol trafficking and steroid synthesis. Dev Cell 37: 558-70

Komura-Kaawa, T., Hirota, K., Shimada-Niwa, Y., Yamauchi, R., Shinoda, T., Fukamizu, A., Shimell, M., O’Connor, M.B. and Niwa, R. (2015) The Drosophila Zinc finger transcription factor Ouija board regulates ecdysteroidogenesis via transcriptional control of spookier Plos Genetics 11: e1005712.doi:10.1371 PMID 26658797

Yamanaka, N., Marques, G.M. and O’Connor, M.B., (2015) Vesicle-Mediated Steroid hormone Secretion in Drosophila melanogaster. Cell, 163(4): 907-1

Ghosh, A., Leof, E., Haley, M.J.,Shimell, M. and O’Connor M.B. (2015) UPRT, a suicide-gene therapy candidate in higher eukaryotes, is required for Drosophila larval growth and normal adult lifespan. Scientific Reports 5: 13176. doi: 10.1038/srep13176.

Bortle, K. V., Peterson, A.J., Takenaka, N., O’Connor,M.B., and Corces, V.G., (2015) CTCF-dependent co-localization of canonical Smad signaling factors at architectural protein binding sites in D. melanogaster" Cell Cycle 14(16): 2677-87. doi: 10.1080/15384101.2015.1053670

Fresan, U., Cuartero, S., O’Connor M.B. and Espinas, M.L., (2015) The insulator protein CTCF regulates Drosophila steroidogenesis Biology 15;4(7): 852-7. doi: 10.1242/bio.012344.)

Kim MJ, O'Connor MB. (2014) Anterograde Activin signaling regulates postsynaptic membrane potential and GluRIIA/B abundance at the Drosophila neuromuscular junction. PLoS One. Sep 25;9(9):e107443. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0107443. eCollection 2014.

Ghosh, A., and O’Connor, M.B. (2014) Systemic Activin signaling independently regulates sugar homeostasis, cellular metabolism, and pH balance in Drosophila. PNAS 111(15): 5729-34