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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. Korona D, Dirnberger B, Giachello CNJ, Queiroz RML, Minde DP, Deery MJ, Johnson G, Müller KH, Firth LC, Earley FG, Russell S and Lilley KS. (2022) Drosophila nicotinic acetylcholine receptor subunits and their native interactions with insecticidal peptide toxins. eLIFE 11:e74322.  bioRxiv
  2. Baudouin-Gonzalez L, Schoenauer A, Harper A, Blakeley G, Seiter M, Arif S, Sumner-Rooney L, Russell S, Sharma PP, McGregor AP. (2021) The evolution of Sox gene repertoires and regulation of segmentation in arachnids. Mol Biol Evol 38:3153–3169

  3. Porcelli D, Fischer B, Russell S, White R. (2019) Chromatin accessibility plays a key role in selective targeting of Hox proteins. Genome Biol 20:115 (bioRxiv

  4. 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 (bioRxiv



[Updated 24/05/2024]

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