Erika Geisbrecht, Ph.D.
Undergraduate Advisor

Image of Erika Geisbrecht, Ph.D.

Contact information

Office: 173 Chalmers Hall
Phone: 785-532-3105
Fax: 785-532-7278
Lab website



B.S., The University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI 1996
Ph.D., The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD 2003

Research video

Areas of specialty

  • Formation and maintenance of muscle and heart tissue
  • Biochemistry and molecular genetics of Drosophila
  • Cell signaling in development

Most animals are mobile and spend a considerable amount of their energy and time foraging for food, escaping danger, and searching for a mate. This ability to move requires sensory input from the nervous system and motor output facilitated by contractile muscle tissue. The fundamental morphological events underlying skeletal muscle development are strikingly similar between humans and model organisms such as the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster. Moreover, the functional conservation of proteins required for muscle development and maintenance across diverse species is well-established. As such, we seek to characterize molecules and signaling pathways in the Drosophila model that regulate: (1) the formation and stability of muscle-tendon interfaces; and (2) maintenance of mature, contractile myofibers. We feel that understanding the molecular events that contribute to the development and homeostasis of normal muscle tissue will allow us to ultimately determine how defects may lead to the onset and progression of human myopathies. Our laboratory uses a combination of genetic, biochemical, and imaging techniques to achieve our goals.

Selected Publications

Brooks D, Naeem F, Stetsiv M, Goetting SC, Bawa S, Green N, Clark C, Bashirullah A, Geisbrecht ER. Drosophila NUAK functions with Starvin/BAG3 in autophagic protein turnover. PLoS Genet. 2020 Apr 22;16(4):e1008700. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1008700. PMID: 32320396

Bawa S, Brooks DS, Neville KE, Tipping M, Sagar MA, Kollhoff JA, Chawla G, Geisbrecht BV, Tennessen JM, Eliceiri KW, Geisbrecht ER. Drosophila TRIM32 cooperates with glycolytic enzymes to promote cell growth. Elife. 2020 Mar 30;9. pii: e52358. doi: 10.7554/eLife.52358.PMID:32223900

Green N, Walker J, Bontrager A, Zych M, Geisbrecht ER. A tissue communication network coordinating innate immune response during muscle stress. J Cell Sci. 2018 Dec 18;131(24). pii: jcs217943. doi: 10.1242/jcs.217943. PMID:30478194

Vishal K, Bawa S, Brooks D, Bauman K, Geisbrecht ER. Thin is required for cell death in the Drosophila abdominal muscles by targeting DIAP1. Cell Death Dis. 2018 Jul 3;9(7):740. doi: 10.1038/s41419-018-0756-x. PMID:29970915

Vishal K, Brooks DS, Bawa S, Gameros S, Stetsiv M, Geisbrecht ER. Adult Muscle Formation Requires Drosophila Moleskin for Proliferation of Wing Disc-Associated Muscle Precursors. Genetics. 2017 May;206(1):199-213. doi: 10.1534/genetics.116.193813. Epub 2017 Mar 1. PMID:27585844

Green N, Odell N, Zych M, Clark C, Wang ZH, Biersmith B, Bajzek C, Cook KR, Dushay MS, Geisbrecht ER. A Common Suite of Coagulation Proteins Function in Drosophila Muscle Attachment. Genetics. 2016 Nov;204(3):1075-1087. doi: 10.1534/genetics.116.189787. Epub 2016 Aug 31. PMID:27585844

Brooks DS, Vishal K, Kawakami J, Bouyain S, Geisbrecht ER. Optimization of wrMTrck to monitor Drosophila larval locomotor activity. J Insect Physiol. Oct-Nov 2016;93-94:11-17. doi: 10.1016/j.jinsphys.2016.07.007. Epub 2016 Jul 16. PMID:27430166

Wang ZH, Clark C, Geisbrecht ER. Drosophila clueless is involved in Parkin-dependent mitophagy by promoting VCP-mediated Marf degradation. Hum Mol Genet.2016 May 15;25(10):1946-1964. doi: 10.1093/hmg/ddw067. Epub 2016 Feb 29. pii: ddw067. PMID:26931463.

Wang ZH, Clark C, Geisbrecht ER. Analysis of mitochondrial structure and function in the Drosophila larval musculature. Mitochondrion. 2016 Jan 26:33-42. doi: 10.1016/j.mito.2015.11.005. Epub 2015 Dec 1. PMID: 26611999

Biersmith B, Wang ZH, Geisbrecht ER. Fine-Tuning of the Actin Cytoskeleton and Cell Adhesion During Drosophila Development by the Unconventional Guanine Nucleotide Exchange Factors Myoblast City and Sponge. Genetics. 2015 Jun;200(2):551-67. doi: 10.1534/genetics.115.177063. Epub 2015 Apr 23. PMID: 25908317

Wang ZH, Rabouille C, Geisbrecht ER. Loss of a Clueless-dGRASP complex results in ER stress and blocks Integrin exit from the perinuclear endoplasmic reticulum in Drosophila larval muscle. Biol Open. 2015 Apr 10;4(5):636-48. doi: 10.1242/bio.201511551. PMID: 25862246.

Liu ZC, Odell N, Geisbrecht ER. Drosophila Importin-7 functions upstream of the Elmo signaling module to mediate the formation and stability of muscle attachments. J Cell Sci. 2013 Sep 17; (126):5210-5223. PMID: 2404651.

Geisbrecht ER*, Sawant K, Su Y, Liu ZC, Silver DL, Burtscher A, Wang X, Zhu AJ, McDonald JA*. Genetic interaction screens identify a role for hedgehog signaling in Drosophila border cell migration. Dev Dyn. 2013 May; 242(5):414-31. PMID: 23335293. (*= co-corresponding author).

LaBeau-DiMenna EM, Clark KA, Bauman KD, Parker DS, Cripps RM, Geisbrecht ER. Thin, a Trim32 ortholog, is essential for myofibril stability and is required for the integrity of the costamere in Drosophila. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2012 Oct 30; 109(44):17983-8. PMID: 23071324.

Liu ZC, Geisbrecht ER. ‘Importin’ signaling roles for import proteins: the function of Drosophila Importin-7 (DIM-7) in muscle-tendon signaling. Cell Adh Migr. 2012 Jan-Feb; 6(1): 4-12. PMID: 22647935.

Liu ZC, Geisbrecht ER. Moleskin is essential for the formation of the myotendinous junction in Drosophila. Dev Biol.2011 Nov 15; 359(2) 176-189. PMID: 21925492. (Cover image).

Biersmith BH, Hammel M, Geisbrecht ER, Bouyain S. The immunoglobulin-like domains 1 and 2 of the protein tyrosine phosphatase LAR adopt an unusual horseshoe-like conformation. J Mol Biol. 2011 May 13; 408(4):616-27. PMID: 21402080.

Biersmith B, Liu Z, Bauman K, Geisbrecht ER. The DOCK protein Sponge binds to ELMO and functions in Drosophila embryonic CNS development. PLOS One. 2011 Jan 25;6(1):e16120. PMID: 21283588.

Complete Publications List