Andrew J. Spracklen


Photograph of Andrew Spracklen
(413) 545-2833
348B Morrill II

B.A., Anderson University, 2005-2009
Ph.D., University of Iowa, 2009-2014


University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2014-2019

Research Interests: 

Actin Cytoskeleton & Cell Adhesion during Development

One of the most fascinating things in all of biology is the ability of a single cell (the zygote) to give rise to an organism consisting of thousands, millions, or even trillions of cells organized into defined tissues. My research interests are focused on understanding how cells regulate their actin cytoskeletons to change shape, generate force, and move. I am particularly interested in how small adaptor proteins (e.g., Crk) and their downstream effectors (e.g., Abelson tyrosine kinase, Arp2/3, SCAR) work to properly coordinate changes in the actin cytoskeleton and cell adhesion during normal embryonic development. To pursue these interests, I have leveraged the full suite of cell biological and genetic tools afforded by Drosophila melanogaster, including quantitative live imaging and CRISPR/Cas9-mediated genome engineering.

Teaching Statement: 

In addition to ensuring students master the fundamental content of any given course, effective teaching helps students develop and practice the skills necessary to think critically, solve unfamiliar problems, achieve information fluency, and develop into life-long learners. My teaching philosophy revolves around three principles: 1) teaching should adapt to students’ needs, 2) science is engaging when it connects to students’ lives, and 3) students should see science as a process in which we can all participate. I believe all students, with the right guidance, can not only learn science but also value science. This belief, coupled with my core philosophy, shapes my approach to teaching in both the classroom and the laboratory.

Representative Publications: 

Spracklen, AJ, Thornton-Kolbe, EM, Bonner, AN, Florea, A, Compton, PJ, Fernandez-Gonzalez, R, and Peifer, M. The Crk adapter protein is essential for Drosophila embryogenesis, where it regulates multiple actin-dependent morphogenic events. Mol. Biol. Cell, mbcE19050302, 30, 2399-2421. doi: 10.1091/mbc.E19-05-0302 (2019).

Tootle, TL, Hoffmann, DS, Allen, AK, Spracklen, AJ, Groen, CM, Kelpsch, DJ. Mini-course-based undergraduate research experience: Impact on student understanding of STEM research and interest in STEM programs. Journal of College Science Teaching 48(6), 44-54, (2019).

Rogers, EM, Spracklen, AJ, Bilancia, CG, Sumigray, KD, Allred, SC, Nowotarski, SH, Schaefer, KN, Ritchie, BJ, and Peifer, M. Abelson kinase acts as a robust, multifunctional scaffold in regulating embryonic morphogenesis. Mol. Biol. Cell 27, 2613-2631, doi: 10.1091/mbc.E16-05-0292 (2016).

Spracklen, AJ and Peifer, M. Actin and Apical Constriction: Some (Re)-Assembly Required. Dev Cell 35, 662-664, doi: 10.1016/j.devcel.2015.12.006 (2015).

Spracklen, AJ and Tootle, TL. (2015) “Drosophila—a model for studying prostaglandin signaling.”. Bioactive Lipid Mediators: Current Reviews and Protocols. Springer Japan. Editors: Takehiko Yokomizo and Makoto Murakami. doi: 10.1007/978-4-431-55669-5. Invited book chapter.

Spracklen, AJ, Fagan, TN, Lovander, K, and Tootle, TL. The pros and cons of common actin labeling tools for visualizing actin dynamics during Drosophila oogenesis. Dev Biol 393, 209-226, doi: 10.1016/j.ydbio.2014.06.022 (2014).

Spracklen, AJ, Kelpsch, DJ, Chen, X, Spracklen, CN & Tootle, TL. Prostaglandins temporally regulate cytoplasmic actin bundle formation during Drosophila oogenesis. Mol. Biol. Cell 25, 391-411, doi: 10.1091/mbc.E13-07-0366 (2014). [Selected for the cover of the February 1, 2014 issue]

Spracklen, AJ & Tootle, TL. The Utility of Stage-specific Mid-to-late Drosophila Follicle Isolation.Journal of visualized experiments : JoVE, doi: 10.3791/50493 (2013).

Groen, CM*, Spracklen, AJ*, Fagan, TN & Tootle, TL. Drosophila Fascin is a novel downstream target of prostaglandin signaling during actin remodeling. Mol. Biol. Cell 23, 4567-4578, doi: 10.1091/mbc.E12-05-0417 (2012). * Denotes shared first authorship