William Sullivan

Bill Sulllivan Distinguished Professor of MCD Biology
B.A., University of California, San Diego
Ph.D., University of Washington, Seattle
Postdoctorate, University of California, San Francisco


Cell Cycle, Cytoskeleton and Pathogenesis
The Sullivan lab focuses on the structural and regulatory mechanisms that drive cell division. Much of our recent efforts have been directed toward understanding the mechanisms that drive furrow ingression during cytokinesis and how this process is coordinated with chromosome segregation and other mitotic events. Through a combination of molecular genetic and cellular approaches, the Sullivan Group has found that elongation of the cytokinesis furrow involves vesicle mediated mediated membrane addition from the recycling endosome. The vesicles not only supply the membrane, but also bring potent actin remodelers to the site of furrow formation. These results provide insight into the mechanisms by which membrane addition is coordinated with acto-myosin based contraction of the furrow. The Sullivan laboratory's current efforts are focused on: 1) the role of vesicle-mediated membrane addition in controlling the timing and position of furrow formation, 2) the mechanisms that recruit F-actin to the cleavage furrow, and 3) identifying the signaling pathways that drives the cell cycle-regulated membrane addition to the furrow.

A second research interest of the lab is the identification of the molecular and cellular basis of host/pathogen interactions. Part of the research group focuses on Wolbachia, obligate intracellular bacterial endosymbionts that are present in over 60% of all insect species. Manipulation of host reproduction and efficient maternal transmission has facilitated the global spread of Wolbachia in arthropods. Wolbachia are also present in worms, and are the leading cause of human blindness in Southern Africa, due the inflammatory response upon release from Wolbachia's nematode host, Onchocerca volvulus. The lab's long-term objective is to understand how Wolbachia use and manipulate host cell processes to their advantage. Specifically, they are interested in Wolbachia/host molecular and cellular interactions that mediate Wolbachia transmission during mitosis in the female germline and somatic tissues. They are also identifying the mechanisms that regulate Wolbachia replication in host cells. Finally, the lab has developed high-throughout cell-based assays to identify more potent Wolbachia-specific antibiotics to be used in the fight against African River Blindness.

Please follow this link to find the lab's publications in the National Library of Medicine's PubMed database.

Sullivan Fac page
Nuclear fallout (nuf) centrosome protein is required for normal cellularization during Drosophila embryogenesis.  Left panel, wild type embryo; right panel, nuf mutant embryo.