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Faculty Profile

Brigitte DauwalderBrigitte Dauwalder

Associate Professor
Department of Biology and Biochemistry

Office: Science & Research 2, 453G
Contact: bdauwalder@uh.edu - (713) 743-2550

Education: Ph.D., University of Zürich

Website

Genetic and Molecular Control of Complex Behaviors in Drosophila

Dr. Brigitte Dauwalder is interested in how complex sex-specific behaviors (such as mating behaviors) are regulated by genes and molecular pathways. Her lab is using the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, to approach these questions, making use of the many powerful genetic, molecular and behavioral tools that are available for this model organism.

Male courtship in fruit flies consists of well-defined steps that can easily be observed and quantified in the lab. That allows the lab to study the effect of mutations and to identify the genes and molecular pathways that regulate mating behavior. It is well known that specific neuronal circuits in the brain of a male are important for successful courtship. In addition, Dauwalder’s lab has shown that male factors produced by a secretory tissue that surrounds the brain are also required. Courtship is significantly compromised when these factors are missing and they have shown that at least one of them acts as a secreted protein. Efficient courtship therefore requires the interaction of endocrine factors with specific parts of the nervous system. These factors and the male brain circuits are separated by the glial cells of the blood brain barrier (bbb), and we have recently found that bbb cells contain sex-specific RNAs that are needed for normal courtship.

The current projects in the lab examine how circulating factors interact with the nervous system to regulate sex specific behavior. The lab is particularly interested in several signaling proteins (nuclear receptors and G-protein coupled receptors) in the bbb that play an important role in this process.

  • Meiselman M, Lee SS, Tran RT, Dai H, Ding Y, Rivera-Perez C, Wijesekera TP, Dauwalder B, Noriega FG, Adams ME. (2017). Endocrine network essential for reproductive success in Drosophila melanogaster. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2017 May 9;114(19):E3849-E3858. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1620760114. Epub 2017 Apr 24.
  • Wijesekera T., Saurabh S. and Dauwalder, B (2016).  Juvenile Hormone is Required in Adult Males for Drosophila Courtship. PLoS ONE 11(3): e0151912.doi: 10.1371/ journal.pone.0151912.
  • C. Dustin Rubinstein, Brigitte Dauwalder and Mariana F. Wolfner (2014). Behavioral genetics of Drosophila female postmating responses. Book chapter in "Handbook of Behavioral Genetics", Cambridge University Press.
  • Haussmann, I.U., Yash Hemani,Y., Wijesekera,T., Dauwalder, B. and Soller, M. (2013). Multiple Pathways Mediate the Sex-Peptide-Regulated Switch in Female Drosophila Reproductive Behaviors. Proc Biol Sci. 2013 Oct 2;280(1771):20131938.
  • Hoxha V, Lama C, Chang, P. L., Saurabh S. , Patel N, Olate N and Dauwalder, B. (2013) Sex-specific signaling in the blood brain barrier is required for male courtship in Drosophila. PLoS Genetics Jan;9(1):e1003217. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1003217.
  • Vanaphan N, Dauwalder B, Zufall RA. (2012). Diversification of takeout, a male-biased gene family in Drosophila. Gene. 2012 Jan 10;491(2):142-8. Epub 2011 Oct 13.
  • Li Y, Hoxha V, Lama C, Dinh BH, Vo CN, Dauwalder B. (2011) The hector G-Protein Coupled Receptor Is Required in a Subset of fruitless Neurons for Male Courtship Behavior PLoS One. 2011;6(11):e28269. Epub 2011 Nov 30.
  • Dauwalder, B. (2011). The roles of fruitless and doublesex in the control of male courtship. Int Rev Neurobiol. 2011;99:87-105.
  • Benito J, Hoxha V, Lama C, Lazareva AA, Ferveur JF, Hardin PE, Dauwalder B. (2010). The circadian output gene takeout is regulated by Pdp1ε. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 107(6), 2544-9. (Epub ahead of print)
  • B. Dauwalder (2008). Systems Behavior: Of Male Courtship, the Nervous System and Beyond in Drosophila. Current Genomics 9, 517-524.
  • Matsumoto A., Ukai-Tadenuma M., Yamada R.G., Houl, J., Uno K.D., Kasukawa T, Dauwalder B, Itoh T. Q., Takahashi K., Ueda R., Hardin P. E., Tanimura T. and Ueda H. R. (2007). A functional genomics strategy reveals clockwork orange as a transcriptional regulator in the Drosophila circadian clock. Genes and Development 21, 1687-700.
  • Lazareva A. A., Roman G., Mattox W., Hardin P. E. and Dauwalder, B. (2007). A role for the adult fat body in Drosophila male courtship behavior. PLoS Genetics 3(1), e16. (Cover picture)
  • Yu W, Zheng H, Houl JH, Dauwalder B, Hardin PE. (2006). PER-dependent rhythms in CLK phosphorylation and E-box binding regulate circadian transcription. Genes and Development 20, 723-33.
  • Dauwalder, B., Tsujimoto, S., Moss, J. and Mattox, W. (2002). The Drosophila takeout gene is regulated by the somatic sex determination pathway and interacts genetically with fruitless to affect male courtship behavior. Genes and Development 16, 2879-2892.

Organizations, Outreach, Boards, Memberships:

Member, Biology of Behavior Institute, University of Houston