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David Burgess

professor of biology

photo of David Burgess

Ph.D., University of California at Davis
Curriculum Vitae

Phone: 617-552-1606

Fields of Interest

Cytokinesis, polarization of the cytoskeleton.

Academic Profile

Our laboratory’s research is in a sub-area of cell biology. Specifically, we are interested in how cells change shape or form and how that is precisely regulated using the cytoskeleton. Molecular motors using cytoskeletal tracks are required for such intracellular movements as cytokinesis, endocytosis, exocytosis, axonal transport and organellar movement in general. Although motors are required, many relatively basic questions are unanswered. A critically important cell shape change under investigation is cytokinesis, the division of the cytoplasm during mitosis that is mediated by an actin-myosin based contractile ring in the cleavage furrow. One of the outstanding questions in the study of cell division is how timing and placement of the contractile ring is coupled to mitotic controls. Using micromanipulation, reverse genetics, as well as biochemical approaches in dividing echinoderm eggs, we have sought to determine how the timing of cytokinesis is coupled to the mitotic cycle. These experiments suggest that the timing of cytokinesis is a function of the delivery of a positive cleavage stimulus to the cortical cytoskeleton. At present, we are investigating the nature of the stimulus from the mitotic apparatus astral microtubules and associated plus end binding proteins and the equatorial cell cortex. Further analyses on the signaling machinery associated with the equatorial plasma membrane and how second messengers direct changes in specific effector molecules.

A second line of research deals with the underrepresentation of minority students in the sciences. Specific studies are under way regarding the barriers to participation by American Indians in biomedical research and opportunities for minority scientists in the study of the ethical, legal, and social implications of genomic research.

Representative Publications

Andrew G. Campbell, Michael J. Leibowitz, Sandra A. Murray, David Burgess, Wilfred F. Denetclaw, Franklin A. Carrero-Martinez, and David J. Asai. 2013. Partnered Research Experiences for Junior Faculty at Minority-Serving Institutions Enhance Professional Success. CBE Life Sci Educ 2013;12 394-402. (link to PubMed abstract).

Minc, N.D. Burgess, D and Chang, F. 2011. Influence of cell geometry on division plane positioning. Cell 144: 414-426.  (link to PubMed abstract).

Gudekjo, H., Alford L., and Burgess, D.R. 2012. Polar expansion during cytokinesis. Cytoskeleton 69:1000-1009. (link to PubMed abstract).

Atilgan, E., Burgess, D.R., and Chang, F. 2012. Localization of cytokinesis factors to the future cell division site by microtubule-dependent transport. Cytoskeleton 69: 973-982. (link to PubMed abstract).

Pollard, T.D., Burgess, D.R., and Mabuchi, I. 2012. Remembrance of Ray Rappaport, pioneer in the study of cytokinesis. Cytoskeleton 69:659-679. (link to PubMed abstract).

Alford, L. M., Ng, M. M., and Burgess, D. R. 2009. Cell polarity emerges at first cleavage in sea urchin embryos. Developmental Biology 330(1): 12–20 (link to PubMed abstract).

Alford, L. M., and Burgess, D. R. 2008. Cytokinesis: a new lipid aboard the raft. Current Biology 18(19): R921–3 (link to PubMed abstract).

Burgess, D. R. 2008. Cytokinesis and the establishment of early embryonic cell polarity. Biochemical Society Transactions 36: 384–386 (link to PubMed abstract).

Burgess, D. R. 2007. Taking on that first faculty job. Nature 447: 1142.

Burgess, D. R. 2005. Cytokinesis: new roles for myosin. Current Biology 15: R310–311 (link to PubMed abstract).

Burgess, D. R., and Chang, F. 2005. Site selection for the cleavage furrow at cytokinesis. Trends in Cell Biology 15: 156–162 (link to PubMed abstract).

Strickland, L. I., Donnelly, E. J., and Burgess, D. R. 2005. Induction of cytokinesis is independent of precisely regulated microtubule dynamics. Molecular Biology of the Cell 16: 4485–4494 (link to PubMed abstract).

Ng, M., Chang, F., and Burgess, D.R. 2005. Movement of membrane domains and requirement of membrane signaling molecules for cytokinesis. Developmental Celllink to PubMed abstract). 9: 781–90 (

Strickland, L.I., Yen, Y., Gundersen, G.G., and Burgess, D. R. 2005. Interaction between EB1 and p150glued is required for anaphase astral microtubule elongation and stimulation of cytokinesis. Current Biology 15: 2249–2255 (link to PubMed abstract).

Strickland, L. I., and Burgess, D. R. 2004. Pathways for membrane trafficking during cytokinesis. Trends in Cell Biology 14: 115–118 (link to PubMed abstract).

Strickland, L., Von Dassow, G., Ellenberg, J., Foe, V., Lenart, P., and Burgess, D. R. 2004. Light Microscopy of Echinoderm Embryos. In: The Development of Invertebrate Deuterostomes: Experimental Approaches. A Volume in Methods in Cell Biology. Edited by: Ettensohn, C.A., Wray, G., and Wessel, G. M.

Chang, F., and Burgess, D. 2003. The contractile ring. Current Biology 13: R692–R693 (link to PubMed abstract).

Shuster, C. B., and Burgess, D. R. 2002. Targeted new membrane addition in the cleavage furrow is a late, separate event in cytokinesis. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA 99: 3633–3638 (link to PubMed abstract).

Shuster, C. B., and Burgess, D. R. 2002. Transitions regulating the timing of cytokinesis in embryonic cells. Current Biology 12 (10): 854–858 (link to PubMed abstract).

Shuster, C. B., and Burgess, D. R. 1999. Parameters that specify the timing of cytokinesis. Journal of Cell Biology 146: 981–992 (link to PubMed abstract).

Stow, J. L., Fath, K. R., and Burgess, D. R. 1998. Budding roles for myosin II on the Golgi complex. Trends in Cell Biology 8: 138–141 (link to PubMed abstract).

Fath, K., Trimbur, G., and Burgess, D. R. 1997. Molecular motors and a spectrin matrix associate with Golgi membranes in vitro. Journal of Cell Biology 139: 1169–1181 (link to PubMed abstract).

Ikonen, E., deAlmeid, J.B., Fath, K. R., Burgess, D., Ashman, K., Simons, K., and Stow, J. L. 1997. Myosin II is associated with Golgi membranes: identification of p200 as nonmuscle myosin II on Golgi-derived vesicles. Journal of Cell Science 110: 2155–2164 (link to PubMed abstract).

Walker, G., Shuster, C. B., and Burgess, D. 1997. Microtubule-entrained kinase activities associated with the cortical cytoskeleton during cytokinesis. Journal of Cell Science 110: 1373–1386 (link to PubMed abstract).

Mamajiwalla, S. N., and Burgess, D. R. 1995. Differential regulation of the activity of 42kD mitogen activated protein kinase (p42 mapk) during enterocyte differentiation in vivo. Oncogene 11: 377–386 (link to PubMed abstract).

Fath, K. R., Trimbur, G., and Burgess, D. R. 1994. Molecular motors are differentially distributed on Golgi membranes from polarized epithelial cells. Journal of Cell Biology 126: 661–676 (link to PubMed abstract).

Walker, G., Kane, R., and Burgess, D. R. 1994. Isolation and characterization of a sea urchin zygote cortex which supports in vitro contraction and reactivation of furrowing. Journal of Cell Science 107: 2239–2248 (link to PubMed abstract).

Fath, K. R., and Burgess, D. R. 1994. Membrane motility mediated by unconventional myosin. Current Opinion in Cell Biology 6: 131–135 (link to PubMed abstract).

Fath, K. R., and Burgess, D. R. 1993. Golgi-derived vesicles from developing epithelial cells bind actin filaments and possess myosin-I as a cytoplasmically oriented peripheral membrane protein. Journal of Cell Biology 120: 117–127 (link to PubMed abstract).

Cartwright, C., Mamajiwalla, S., Eckhart, W., Skolnick, S. A., and Burgess, D. R. 1993. Intestinal crypt cells contain higher levels of cytoskeletal-associated pp60c-src protein tyrosine kinase activity than do differenciated enterocytes. Oncogene 8: 1033–1039 (link to PubMed abstract).

Policy Publications

Burgess, D. R. 1997. Barriers to graduate school for minority-group students. Invited Article. Chronicle of Higher Education XLIV(7): B7–8.

Burgess, D. R. 1996. Are foreign students displacing minorities in biomedical graduate education? Journal of NIH Research 9(4): 17–21.