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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 with Rob White (PDN)  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. 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 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. Carl SH, Russell S (2015) Common binding by redundant group B Sox proteins is evolutionarily conserved in Drosophila. BMC Genomics 16:292
  2. 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
  3. Aleksic J, Fischer B, Ferrero E, Russell S. (2013) The role of Dichaete in transcriptional regulation during Drosophila embryonic development. BMC Genomics 14: 861
  4. Fischer B, Wasbrough E, Meadows LA, Randlet O, Dorus S, Karr TL, Russell S. (2012) Conserved properties of Drosophila and human spermatozoal mRNA repertoires. Proc. R. Soc. Lon. B. 279: 2636-2644

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