Craig T. Woodard

Associate Professor of Biological Sciences, Mount Holyoke College

C. Woodard Biology Dept Website

Ph.D.: Yale University
Postdoctoral Training: University of Utah
Honors: National Science Foundation CAREER Award

Steroid Hormonal Regulation of Development in Drosophila

Steroid hormones control a wide range of developmental processes in higher organisms, including humans. The biological processes controlled by steroid hormones include the development of secondary sex characteristics, reproductive function, and dietary metabolism. Steroid hormones act in conjunction with receptor proteins to regulate the expression of target genes, ensuring that these genes are activated in the right tissues and at the right times. Although we have some understanding of how steroid hormones and their receptors control gene transcription in cultured mammalian cells, we understand little about how these effects on gene expression result in the dramatic developmental changes associated with steroid hormone function.

The goal of our research is to answer one of the central questions of developmental biology—how can a single hormonal signal elicit different responses at different times during development? This central question is difficult to address using vertebrate animals, because it is difficult to perform whole animal and genetic studies with vertebrates. The fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, in contrast, provides an ideal model system for unraveling the molecular mechanisms of steroid hormone action in the context of an intact animal. Drosophila undergoes a dramatic transition from larva to adult fly that is called metamorphosis. Metamorphosis is directed by a single steroid hormone called ecdysone. We are currently carrying out genetic, phenotypic, and molecular characterizations of mutations in a gene that appears to play a key role in directing transcriptional and developmental responses to ecdysone. By examining the mechanisms whereby ecdysone regulates metamorphosis in the fly, we hope to gain a better understanding of how steroid hormones control developmental processes in general.

Our Research is supported by an RUI Grant from the National Science Foundation and by a CAREER Award from the National Science Foundation.

Representative publications:

Pick, L., Anderson, W.R., Shulz, J., and Woodard, C.T. The Ftz-F1 family: orphan nuclear receptors regulated by novel protein-protein interactions. in Nuclear receptors in development (Advances in Developmental Biology series). Reshma Taneja, editor. Elsevier. In Press.

Fortier, T.M., Chatterjee, R., Klinedinst, S., Baehrecke, E.H., and Woodard, C.T. 2006. how functions in leg development during Drosophila metamorphosis. Developmental Dynamics. 235: 2248-2259

Fortier, T.M., Vasa, P.P., and Woodard, C.T. 2003. Orphan Nuclear Receptor FTZ-F1 is Required for Muscle-Driven Morphogenetic Events at the Prepupal-Pupal Transition in Drosophila melanogaster . Developmental Biology. 257: 153-165.

Lee C.-Y., Simon C.R., Woodard, C.T. and Baehrecke E.H. 2002. Genetic Mechanism for the Stage- and Tissue-Specific Regulation of Steroid-Triggered Programmed Cell Death in Drosophila . Developmental Biology. 252: 138-148.

Gaines, P, Tompkins, L., Woodard, C.T., and Carlson, J.R. (2000). quick-to-court, a Drosophila Mutant with Elevated Levels of Sexual Behavior, is Defective in a Predicted Coiled-Coil Protein. Genetics 154: 1627-1637

Broadus, J., **McCabe, J., Endrizzi, B., Thummel, C.S., and Woodard, C.T. (1999). The Drosophila ßFTZ-F1 orphan nuclear receptor provides competence for stage-specific responses to the steroid hormone ecdysone. Molecular Cell 3: 143-149

Gaines, Peter, Woodard, C.T., and Carlson, J.R. (1999). An Enhancer Trap Line Identifies the Drosophila Homolog of the L37a Ribosomal Protein". Gene 239: 137-143

Woodard, C.T., Baehrecke, E.H., and Thummel, C.S. (1994). A Molecular Mechanism for the Stage-Specificity of the Drosophila Prepupal Genetic Response to Ecdysone. Cell 79: 607-615

Riesgo-Escovar, J., Woodard. C., and Carlson. J. (1994). Olfactory Physiology in the Drosophila Maxillary Palps Requires the Visual System Gene rdgB. J. Comp. Physiol. 175: 687-693

Baehrecke, E.H., Woodard, C.T., and Thummel, C.S. (1994). Temporal Differences in Ecdysone-Regulated Gene Expression at the Onset of Drosophila Metamorphosis. In Perspectives in Comparative Endocrinology. ed. K.G. Davey, R.E. Peter, and S.S. Tobe) pp. 395-399. National Research Council of Canada, Ottawa

Riesgo-Escovar, J., Gaines, P., Woodard, C., Raha, D., Hekmatpanah, D., DiBello, P.R., and Carlson, J.R. (1993). Isolation of Olfactory Genes using Enhancer Trap Technology, Chem. Senses 18: 621

Riesgo-Escovar, J., Woodard, C., Gaines, P., and Carlson, J. (1992). Development and Organization of the Drosophila Olfactory System: An Analysis using Enhancer Traps. J. Neurobiology 23: 947-964

Woodard, C., Alcorta, E., and Carlson, J. (1992). The rdgB Gene of Drosophila: A Link Between Vision and Olfaction, J. Neurogenetics 8: 17-32

Carlson, J. and Woodard, C. (1990). Olfactory Recognition of Plants by Insect Pests: Drosophila as a Model System. Symp. Biol. Hung. 39: 153-160

McKenna, M., Monte, P., Helfand, S., Woodard, C., and Carlson, J. (1989). A Novel Chemosensory Response in Drosophila and the Isolation of the acj Mutations in which it is Affected. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 86: 8118-8122

Woodard, C., Huang, T., Sun, H., Helfand, S., and Carlson, J. (1989). Genetic Analysis of Olfactory Behavior in Drosophila: A New Screen Yields the ota Mutants. Genetics 123: 315-326

Monte, P., Woodard, C., Ayer, R., Lilly, M., Sun, H., and Carlson, J. (1989). Characterization of the Larval Olfactory Response in Drosophila and Its Genetic Basis. Behavior Genetics 19: 267-283

(**indicates Mount Holyoke College undergraduate author)