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Dr Peter A. Lawrence FRS

Dr Peter A. Lawrence, FRS

MRC Emeritus Scientist

Room S14
Office Phone: 01223 (7)69015

Research Interests

In collaboration with Gary Struhl in University of Columbia, New York, and David Strutt, in University of Sheffield and colleagues, José Casal and I try to understand animal design and pattern formation. An important and rather neglected aspect of development of both animals and plants is vectorial  — how do cells know which way to move, how to polarise cell divisions, how to orient cell extensions such as axons, hairs or bristles? We are using Drosophila and studying what must be at least part of this vectorial information and is known as planar cell polarity (PCP) which we analyse with both molecular and genetic techniques. We have found that PCP depends on (at least) two genetic systems (the Dachsous system and the Starry night (Flamingo) system and we are now trying to understand these systems better, both at the cellular and the molecular level. Our approaches include genetic mosaics, genetic engineering, the 4D microscopy of cell migration in the fly pupa, axon and dendrite pathfinding in the epidermis and development of the heart.

Key Publications

  1. Day, S.J. and Lawrence, P.A. Measuring dimensions: the regulation of shape and size. Development 127, 2977-2987 (2000).
  2. Casal, J., Struhl, G and Lawrence, P.A. Developmental compartments and planar polarity in Drosophila. Current Biology 12, 1189-1198 (2002).
  3. Lawrence, P.A. Casal, J. and Struhl, G. Cell interactions and planar polarity in the abdominal epidermis of Drosophila. Development 131, 4651-4664 (2004).
  4. Casal, J., Lawrence, P.A. and Struhl, G. Two separate molecular systems, Dachsous/Fat and Starry night/Frizzled, act independently to confer planar cell polarity. Development 133, 4561-4572 (2006).
  5. Lawrence, P.A., Struhl, G. Casal, J. (2007) Planar cell polarity: one or two pathways? Nature Reviews Genetics 8, 555-563.
  6. Brittle, A. L., Repiso, A., Casal, J., Lawrence, P. A., and Strutt, D. Four-Jointed modulates growth and planar polarity by reducing the affinity of Dachsous for Fat. Curr. Biol., 20, 803–810. (2010).
  7. Repiso, A., Saavedra, P., Casal, J., and Lawrence, P. A. Planar cell polarity: the orientation of larval denticles in Drosophila appears to depend on gradients of Dachsous and Fat. Development, 137, 3411–3415. (2010).
  8. Krzemień, J., Fabre, C. C. G., Casal, J., and Lawrence, P. A. The muscle pattern of the Drosophila abdomen depends on a subdivision of the anterior compartment of each segment. Development, 139:75-83 (2012).
  9. Struhl G., Casal J.,and Lawrence P.A. Dissecting the molecular bridges that mediate the function of Frizzled in planar cell polarity. Development 139: 3665-3674 (2012).
  10. Fabre C.C.G., Hedwig B., Conduit G., Lawrence P.A., Goodwin S., and Casal J. Substrate-borne vibratory communication during courtship in Drosophila melanogaster. Curr. Biol. 22: 2180-2185 (2012).
  11. Lawrence P.A., and Casal J. The mechanisms of planar cell polarity, growth and the Hippo pathway: Some known unknowns. Dev. Biol. 377: 1-8. (2013).

Other Publications

  1. Lawrence P.A. (1992) The Making of a Fly: The Genetics of Animal Design. Blackwell Scientific Publications, Oxford, 229 pp. ISBN: 0-632-30048-8
  2. Wolpert, L., Tickle, C., Lawrence, P. A. , Meyerowitz, E., Robertson, E., Smith, J. and Jessel, T. (2011) Principles of Development 4° ed. Oxford University Press, Oxford and New York, 656 pp. ISBN: 978-0-19-954907-8

Search PubMedGoogle Scholar for more publications by Peter Lawrence, or check his personal site ( for an up-to-date list.
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