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Clarissa Cheney

Associate Professor of Biology

Contact Information

R. C. Seaver Biology Building, Room 121
175 W Sixth Street
Claremont, CA 91711
Cheney Lab Website


Ph.D. University of Pennsylvania, Biology
M. Phil. Yale University, Biology
B.A. Goucher College, Biological Sciences

Professional Experience

Chair of Biology, Pomona College
Associate Professor of Biology, Pomona College
Assistant Professor of Genetics, Washington University School of Medicine
Assistant Professor of Biology, The Johns Hopkins University
Lecturer, Goucher College
Associate Research Scientist, The Johns Hopkins University
Postdoctoral Fellow, The Johns Hopkins University


Biology 40: Introductory Genetics
Biology 169: Developmental Biology

Research Interests

Our research focuses on the study of vesicle transport and Rab GDI interactors in Drosophila melanogaster. Our approaches encompass classical fly genetics, cell biology and developmental biology.

Rab GTPases play a multitude of roles in vesicular transport, including regulation of vesicle formation, vesicle motility, vesicle tethering, membrane fusion, and membrane remodeling. Rab GDP Dissociation Inhibitor (GDI) is a protein that binds to Rabs, keeping Rab in the GDP-bound state, as well as delivering and placing Rabs in the correct membrane compartment. The mechanism for releasing Rab from GDI and delivering Rab to the correct membrane is unknown and is likely to involve proteins that bind and interact with GDI.

This research program has previously cloned the Drosophila GDI gene, determined the Drosophila GDI crystal structure, isolated and characterized Drosophila GDI mutations, and located the GDI mutations within the GDI crystal structure (Ricard et al., 2001). Prior work has discovered 14 genomic regions that interact genetically with a GDI null allele, creating a female sterile phenotype. Current projects in the lab include identifying the interacting gene(s) in these regions, determining the nature of the female sterility in the interaction, using a GST pull-down system to identify proteins that interact with GDI and also using a yeast two-hybrid system to isolate GDI interacting proteins.

Selected Publications

Ricard, C.S., J.M. Jakubowski, J.W. Verbsky, M.A. Barbieri, W.M. Lewis*, G.E. Fernandez, M. Vogel, C. Tsou*, V. Prasad*, P. Stahl, G. Waksman and C.M. Cheney. 2001. Drosophila rab GDI mutants show developmental defects but normal rab membrane extraction. Genesis: The Journal of Genetics and Development 31: 17-29. [abstract]

Garrett, M., J.E. Zahner, C.M. Cheney, and P. Novick. 1994. GDI1 encodes a GDP dissociation inhibitor that plays an essential role in the yeast secretory pathway. EMBO J. 13: 1718-1728. [abstract]

Cheney, C.M., N.G. Kravit, and J.W. Verbsky. 1993. A new myosin I gene in Drosophila. Biochem. Biophys. Res. Comm. 3: 1280-1288. [abstract]

Garrett, M.D., A.K. Kabcenell, J.E. Zahner, T. Sasaki, Y. Takai, C.M. Cheney and P. J. Novick. 1993. Interaction of Sec4 with GDI proteins from bovine brain, Drosophila melanogaster and Saccharomyces cerevisiae: Conservation of GDI membrane dissociation activity. FEBS Letters 331: 233-238. [abstract]

*Undergraduate co-author