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Russell Group

Drosophila Genomics


Drosophila, development, transcription, chromatin, genomics

Research interests

The main focus of my lab is exploring aspects of transcriptional regulation and chromatin architecture at a genome wide scale in Drosophila. We are based in the Genetics Department and in the Cambridge Systems Biology Centre.

We have a long-standing interest in the biology of Sox domain transcription factors in the fly, using classical genetics and developmental biology approaches to understand the biological function of Sox factors in CNS and gonad development (Dichaete, SoxN & Sox100B) along with genomics techniques such as expression profiling and ChIP-array to understand how they control regulatory circuits. We are also investigating aspects of transcriptional processes underpinning sperm development and other sexually dimorphic processes, regulatory circuits controlled by Hox proteins and, in a collaboration led by Sarah Bray (PDN), the genomic response to Notch signalling.

We have a long-standing commitment to the provision of community resources for the fly, and have contributed to several resource projects including DrosDel, FlyChip and modENCODE. Currently, we are involved in a UK project with Daniel St Johnston (PI, Gurdon) and Kathryn Lilley (CSBC) to generate new protein trap lines as in vivo proteomics resources for Drosophila - see Finally, Drosophila is a useful model for investigating insect disease vectors and we are part of a Grand Challenges in Global Health programme headed by Austin Burt (Imperial College) to develop novel methods of controlling the malaria vector Anopheles gambiae.

4 key publications

  1. Shen S P, Aleksic J, Russell S (2013) Identifying targets of the Sox domain protein Dichaete in the Drosophila CNS via targeted expression of dominant negative proteins. BMC Dev Biol 13: 1
  2. Fischer B, Wasbrough E, Meadows L A, Randlet O, Dorus S, Karr T L, Russell S. (2012) Conserved properties of Drosophila and human spermatozoal mRNA repertoires. Proc. R. Soc. Lon. B. 279: 2636-2644
  3. Baker D A, Nolan T, Fischer B, Pinder A, Crisanti A, Russell S. (2011) A comprehensive atlas of tissue-specific expression in the malaria vector, Anopheles gambiae, reveals genes evolved for specialized feeding and mating behaviours. BMC Genomics 12: 296
  4. Choo S W, White R, Russell S. (2011) Genome-wide analysis of the binding of the Hox protein Ultrabithorax and the Hox cofactor Homothorax in Drosophila. PLoS ONE 6: e14778

Contact details

Group leader : Professor Steve Russell

Department of Genetics,
University of Cambridge,
Downing Street,
Cambridge CB2 3EH,
United Kingdom


Tel.: +44 (0)1223 766929

Group members

Group website & Steve's blog