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Biochemistry Dept.
University of  Oxford,
South Parks Rd.,
Oxford, ​OX1 3QU


Right: Syncytial blastoderm embryo expressing a nuclear GFP (green) injected with red RNA, which was allowed to fully localized followed by far red RNA (shown in cyan), which has not yet localized. Injection of inhibitory reagents can then assay distinct requirements for transport (blue RNA) and anchoring (red RNA) in the same living embryo

Selected publications

1. Davidson A, Parton RM, Rabouille C, Weil TT, Davis I. (2016) Localized Translation of gurken/TGF-α mRNA during Axis Specification Is Controlled by Access to Orb/CPEB on Processing Bodies. Cell Rep. 14, 1-12.  pii: S2211-1247(16)30141-3. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2016.02.038

2. Parton RM, Davidson A, Davis I, Weil TT. (2014) Subcellular localisation at a glance. J. Cell Sci. 127(Pt 10):2127-33

3. Weil TT, Parton RM, Herpers B, Soetaert J, Veenendaal T, Xanthakis D, Dobbie IM, Halstead JM, Hayashi R, Rabouille C, Davis I. (2012) Drosophila patterning is established by differential association of mRNAs with P bodies. Nat Cell Biol. 2012 Dec;14(12):1305-13. doi: 10.1038/ncb2627. Epub 2012 Nov 25.

4. Parton RM, Hamilton RS, Ball G, Yang L, Cullen CF, Lu W, Ohkura H, Davis I.

A PAR-1-dependent orientation gradient of dynamic microtubules directs posterior cargo transport in the Drosophila oocyte.
J Cell Biol. 2011 Jul 11;194(1):121-35. doi: 10.1083/jcb.201103160.

Left: The movement of gurken (TGFalpha) RNA from the nurse cells into the oocyte in Drosophila egg chambers. After injection into the nurse cells, gurken RNA (red), assembles into particles that move through the ring canals (green), connecting the nurse cells (left) to the oocyte (right). The particles are shown as trails by superimposing multiple time points from a time lapse movie onto a single image

Patterning and embryo & oocyte development

Considerable intracellular sorting is achieved by molecular motors transporting cargo along the cytoskeleton, a system analogous to a trains transporting cargo on train tracks. We have been studying the tickets (RNA signals) that determine which train (dynein motor) will be used by different passengers (RNA cargo) and how the ticket inspector (trans acting protein factors) chose which trains the passengers can travel on.

We have shown that the passengers are kept at the final destination by remaining attached to the engine (dynein motor) on the track (microtubules). Once it arrives at the destination, the cargo remains there even if the engine is switched off (ATPase activity of the motor is inhibited) and the driver and guard go home (motor cofactors inhibited).

We have been studying these processes in living cells using highly sensitive microscopy techniques, which can reveal the detailed dynamics of RNA movement. We are studying these processes in embryos and oocytes and in the nervous system.

Co-workers: Kirsty Gill, Richard Parton