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Joseph R. McCormick, Ph.D.

Associate Professor and Chair
Bayer School of Natural and Environmental Sciences
Biological Sciences

Mellon Hall 210A
Phone: 412.396.4775

Education:

B.A., Biology and Chemistry, University of Delaware, 1982
Ph.D., Biological Sciences, University of Rochester, 1989
Postdoc, Molecular and Cellular Biology, Harvard University, 1992
Research

Genetic Dissection of Prokaryotic Cytokinesis and Chromosome Segregation

My laboratory is interested in understanding the problem of how cells divide and how they faithfully segregate copies of their genomes. Our approach to this problem is to study cell division and chromsome segregation genes in a simple organism accessible to genetic manipulation. The organism I study is the filamentous soil bacterium Streptomyces coelicolor. This mycelial bacterium undergoes an elaborate cycle of cellular differentiation similar to that of certain filamentous fungi. During differentiation, aerial hyphal filaments are partitioned by extensive septation to form uninucleoid cells that further metamorphose into chains of spores.

In unicellular bacteria, cell division is required for growth and therefore is essential. However, my previous results demonstrate that septation is dispensable for vegetative growth of S. coelicolor, but still required for subdivision of aerial filaments during spore formation. Therefore, the advantage of using this system is that it is possible to isolate or construct mutants to analyze bacterial cytokinesis as a nonessential process using this filamentous bacterium while similar mutants would be lethal in unicellular organisms. I hope this approach will identify new genes involved in cell division, particularly those whose products are involved in imparting the positional information as to where the future sites of cell division will be.

Because of its complex life cycle, S. coelicolor offers an excellent system for studying regulation of morphological differentiation. My results suggest that cell division has been mainly co-opted for septation during spore formation in this organism. A second goal of my research is to analyze how cell division is regulated temporally and spatially such that it occurs synchronously in the aerial hyphae, the regions of the colony which are destined to become spores.

Publications

Kolber, B.J., M. Konsolaki, M.P. Verzi, C.R. Wagner, J.R. McCormick and K. Schindler. 2014. Sex-specific differences in Meiosis: real-world applications. CourseSource. In Press.

McCormick, J.R. and K. Flärdh. 2012. Signals and Regulators that Govern Streptomyces Development. FEMS Microbiology Reviews. 36:206-231.

McCormick, J.R. 2009. Cell division is dispensable but not irrelevant in Streptomyces. Current Opinion in Microbiology. 12:689-698. (Cover Photograph)

Bennett, J.A., J. Yarnall, A.B. Cadwallader, R. Kuennen, P. Bidey, B. Stadelmaier and J.R. McCormick. 2009. Medium-dependent phenotypes of Streptomyces coelicolor with mutations in ftsI or ftsW. Journal of Bacteriology. 191:661-664.

Dedrick, R.M., Wildschutte, H. and J.R. McCormick. 2009. Genetic interactions of smc, ftsK and parB genes in Streptomyces coelicolor and their developmental genome segregation phenotypes. Journal of Bacteriology. 191:320-332.

Bennett, J.A., Aimino, R.M. and J.R. McCormick. 2007. Streptomyces coelicolor genes ftsL and divIC play a role in cell division, but are dispensable for colony formation. Journal of Bacteriology. 189:8982-8992.

Bentley, S.D., S. Brown, L.D. Murphy, D.E. Harris, M.A. Quail, J. Parkhill, B.G. Barrell, J.R. McCormick , R.I. Santamaria, R. Losick, M. Yamasaki, H. Kinashi, C.W. Chen, G. Chandra, D. Jakimowicz, H.M. Kieser, T. Kieser and K.F. Chater. 2004. SCP1, a 356 023 bp linear plasmid adapted to the ecology and developmental biology of its host, Streptomyces coelicolor A3(2). Molecular Microbiology. 51:1615-1628.

Grantcharova, N., W. Ubhayasekera, S.L. Mowbray, J.R. McCormick, and K. Fl-rdh. 2003. A missense mutation in ftsZ differentially affects vegetative and developmentally controlled cell division in Streptomyces coelicolor. Molecular Microbiology. 47:645-656.

Bennett, J.A. and J.R. McCormick. 2001. Two New Loci Affecting Cell Division Identified as Suppressors of an ftsQ-Null Mutation in Streptomyces coelicolor A3(2). FEMS Microbiology Letters. 202:251-256.

Schwedock, J., McCormick, J. R., Angert, E. R., Nodwell, J. R. and R. Losick. (1997) Assembly of the Cell Division Protein FtsZ into Ladder-Like Structures in the Aerial Hyphae of Steptomyces coelicolor. Molecular Microbiology. 25:847-858.

McCormick, J.R. and R. Losick (1996). Cell Division Gene ftsQ is required for Efficient Sporulation but not Growth and Viability in Streptomyces coelicolor A3(2). Journal of Bacteriology. 178:5259-5301.

McCormick, J.R., E.P. Su, A. Driks and R. Losick (1994). Growth and Viability of Streptomyces coelicolor Mutant for the Cell Division Gene ftsZ. Molecular Microbiology. 14:243-254.

McCormick, J.R., J.M. Zengel and L. Lindahl (1994). Correlation of Translation Efficiency with the Decay of a lacZ mRNA in Escherichia coli. Journal of Molecular Biology. 239:608-622.

Honors/Awards

National Academies Education Fellow in the Life Sciences, 2012-2013

2000 President's Award for Faculty Excellence in Teaching

PBM 2015

Pittsburgh Bacterial Meeting 2015

Saturday, March 7, 2015
Mellon Hall, Duquesne University

Morning Platform Talks: Maurice Falk Hall - Mellon Hall, 1st Floor
Lunch: Africa Room of the Student Union
Afternoon Poster Session: Mellon Hall Foyer

Download PBM 2015 Announcement

Every year, the Department of Biological Sciences hosts a one-day meeting to bring together the bacteriology community in the Pittsburgh and tri-state area. While Principal Investigators attend the conference, the focus is on student presentations. Post docs and graduate students present their research in short talks and posters. This will be the 10th year (9th meeting) for PBM. Plan to attend to celebrate the important anniversary and our important contributions to the field.

PBM 2015 is organized and hosted by Dr. Joseph McCormick. Funding has been provided generously by the Bayer School of Natural and Environmental Sciences and Fisher Scientific. Send inquiries to pbm@duq.edu.