Amanda A. Amodeo

Academic Appointments

Assitant Professor of Biological Sciences
Molecular and Cellular Biology Graduate Program

My lab seeks to address fundamental biological questions about how cells and organs measure their sizes in developmental contexts. Our work focuses on the understanding the molecular pathways that regulate and coordinate the cell cycle, transcription, and chromatin regulation. Specifically, we have focused on the early embryos of the fruit fly Drosophila where “normal” cell size control is turned on its head. While in most contexts a cell needs to grow to double its original size before dividing in order to maintain a constant cell volume, the early embryo starts off as a huge cell that undergoes reductive cleavage divisions without growth to restore more typical cell sizes. We take advantage of the exquisite quantitative imaging, genetics, and genomics of the fly embryo to interrogate how cells know when they have reached the correct cell size to stop dividing and begin differentiating. We also employ classic molecular biology, biochemistry, and mathematical modeling to refine and develop our understanding of the system.

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The cell size dependent change in cell cycle behavior is accompanied by a profound change in the transcriptional and chromatin sate of the embryo. Before cell cycle slowing, the embryo is largely transcriptionally silenced. When the cell cycle slows the zygotic genome is activated and zygotic (rather than maternal) phenotypes become evident for the first time. We seek to understand how this maternal to zygotic handoff is coordinated with the changes in cell cycle and cell size. My lab is especially interested in the role of histones (both on and off chromatin) in this transition.

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Personal Website
223 Class of 1978 Life Sciences Center
HB 6044
B.S. University of Wisconsin - Madison
Ph.D. Stanford University

Selected publications

Wilky H, Syed S, Raimundo J, Lim B*, and Amodeo AA. 2020. The nuclear to  cytoplasmic ratio directly regulates zygotic transcription in DrosophilaBioRxiv (doi: 10.1101/766881).

Chari S, Wilky H, Govindan J, and Amodeo AA. 2019. Histone concentration regulates the cell cycle and transcription at the mid-blastula transition. Development.

Shindo Y and Amodeo AA. 2019. Dynamics of free and chromatin-bound Histone H3 during early embryogenesis. Current Biology.

Amodeo AA & Skotheim JS. 2015. Cell size control. In: Heald R, Wake D, and Hariharan I, editors. Size Control in Biology, from Organelles to Organisms. New York: Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press.

Amodeo AA, Jukam D, Straight AF, and Skotheim JM. 2015. Histone titration by DNA sets the threshold for the mid-blastula transition in Xenopus. PNAS.