skip to content

Department of Genetics


Drosophila Genomics


Drosophila, development, transcription, chromatin, genomics

Research interests

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

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. More recently, in collaboration with Alistair McGregor at Oxford Brookes, we have been exploring conservation of Sox function in the invertebrates by an analysis of Sox gene expression and function in spiders. We are also investigating aspects of regulatory circuits controlled by Hox proteins with Rob White (PDN)  and, in a collaboration led by Sarah Bray (PDN), the genomic response to Notch signalling. Finally, in collaboration with Prof Kathryn Lilley at the Cambridge Centre for Proteomics, we are exploring the isoformal proteomics of the signalling pathway regulator Shaggy and, more recently have initiated a project to examine the expression and function of the fly nicotinic Acetylcholine Receptors
We also 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. We were 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 (  Currently, along with Kathryn Lilley, we are involved in a BBSRC sLoLa led by Simon Hubbard (Manchester) to characterise and quantify the embryonic proteome. Finally, Drosophila is a useful model for investigating insect disease vectors and we are part of the Target Malaria programme headed by Austin Burt (Imperial College) to develop novel methods of controlling the malaria vector Anopheles gambiae.


4 key publications

  1. Paese CLB, Schoenauer A, Leite DJ,  Russell S, McGregor AP.  (2018)  A SoxB gene acts as an anterior gap gene and regulates posterior segment addition in a spider. eLIFE 7:e37567
  2. Carl SH, Russell S (2015) Common binding by redundant group B Sox proteins is evolutionarily conserved in Drosophila. BMC Genomics 16:292
  3. Ferrero E, Fischer B, Russell S (2014) SoxNeuro orchestrates central nervous system specification and differentiation in Drosophila and is only partially redundant with Dichaete. Genome Biology 15:R74
  4. Aleksic J, Fischer B, Ferrero E, Russell S. (2013) The role of Dichaete in transcriptional regulation during Drosophila embryonic development. BMC Genomics 14: 861


[Updated 4 Jan 2019]

Group website & Steve's blog

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