UVA Biology Faculty Paul Adler

Paul Adler

Emeritus Professor of Biology


  • B.A., Carnegie Mellon University, 1969
  • M.A., Boston University, 1971
  • Ph.D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1975
  • Postdoctoral Research, University of California, Irvine, 1975-77

Research Interests

Research in the Adler lab is focused on aspects of cell and tissue polarity. For many years we have studied planar polarity using the wing of Drosophila as a model system. This tissue polarity is manifested by each cell in the wing forming a distally pointing hair. Early work from the lab established that a genetic regulatory pathway (the frizzled pathway) controlled this by restricting the activation of the cytoskseleton to grow the hair to the most distal part of the cell. Work from a number of laboratories has shown that the proteins encoded by frizzled pathway genes accumulate in protein complexes located on either the proximal or distal sides of wing cells. In recent years our research has primarily been focused on downstream members of the pathway, such as friz, inturned and multiple wing hairs and how these proteins interact and function to locally activate the cytoskeleton.

Insect cuticle is a multilayered structure whose physical properties vary more than any other biological material.  We have recently begun to examine the genetic basis for the formation of insect cuticle.  Our initial results have suggested that the outmost envelope layer, which is deposited first instructs the deposition of later layers.   

Representative Publications

  • Adler, P. N. and Nathans, J. (2016).  The cellular compass.  Scientific American, 314: 67-71.
  • Sobala, L. F. and Adler, P.N. (2016).  The gene expression program for the formation of wing cuticle in Drosophila.  PLoS Genet,12: e1006100.
  • Sobala, L. F., Wang, Y. and Adler, P.N. (2015).  ChtVis-Tomato, a fluorescent reporter for in vivo visualization of chitin deposition in Drosophila.  Development, 142: 3974-3981. PMID: 26395478.
  • Qiuheng, L., Schafer, D. A. and Adler, P.N. (2015). The Drosophila planar polarity gene multiple wing hairs directly regulates the actin cytoskeleton.  Development, 142: 2478-2486. PMID: 26153232 PMCID: PMC4510862.
  • Wang, Y., J. Yan, H. Lee, Lu, Q and Adler, P.N. (2014).  The proteins encoded by the Drosophila Planar Polarity Effector genes inturned, fuzzy and fritz interact physically and can re-pattern the accumulation of “upstream” Planar Cell Polarity proteins.  Developmental Biology, 394: 156-169.   PubMed PMID: 25072625; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4163512.