Dr. David E. Wilkes

  • Assistant Professor of Cell Biology
  • B.A. Miami University (1990)
  • M.S. Miami University (1993)
  • Ph.D. Purdue University (2000)
  • Office: Northside 130D
  • Phone: 574-520-4411
  • Email: dewilkes AT


The focus of my laboratory is to understand the structural basis for dynein functions. We use the tools of genetics, molecular biology, fluorescence light microscopy, and protein biochemistry.  Dyneins are molecular motor protein complexes that walk along the surface of microtubule tracks within the cell.  These complexes perform a wide variety of essential cellular functions.  They are involved in the transport of membrane bound vesicles and organelles, organization of the mitotic spindle, and the beating and formation of cilia and eukaryotic flagella.  We use the single-celled ciliate, Tetrahymena thermophila, to study dynein function. Tetrahymena possesses the biological complexity of “higher” organisms in a single cell that is easy to grow in the laboratory. Additionally, Tetrahymena expresses a dynein family that is similar in complexity and sequences to the family of dyneins expressed in "higher" eukaryotes including mammals.



Rajagopalan, V., E.O. Corpuz, M.J. Hubenschmidt, C.R. Townsend, D.J. Asai, and D.E. Wilkes (2009) Analysis of properties of cilia using Tetrahymena thermophilaMeth. Mol. Biol. 586: in press.

Asai, D.J., V. Rajagopalan, and D.E. Wilkes (2009) Dynein-2 and ciliogenesis in TetrahymenaCell Motil. Cytoskeleton 66: 673-677.

Rajagopalan, V., A. Subramanian, D.E. Wilkes, D.G. Pennock, and D.J. Asai (2009) Dynein-2 affects the regulation of ciliary length but is not required for ciliogenesis in Tetrahymena thermophila. Mol. Biol. Cell 20: 708-720.

Wilkes, D.E., H.E. Watson, D.R. Mitchell, and D.J. Asai (2008) Twenty-five dyneins in Tetrahymena: A re-examination of the multi-dynein hypothesis. Cell Motil. Cytoskeleton 65: 342-351.

Wilkes, D.E., V. Rajagopalan, C.W.C. Chan, E. Kniazeva, A.E. Wiedeman, and D.J. Asai (2007) Dynein light chain family in Tetrahymena thermophila. Cell Motil. Cytoskeleton 64: 82-96.

Eisen, J.A. et al. – 56 co-authors (2006) Macronuclear genome sequence of the ciliate Tetrahymena thermophila, a model organism.  PLOS Biol. 4: 1620-1642.

Asai, D.J. and D.E. Wilkes (2004) The dynein heavy chain family.  J. Eukaryot. Microbiol. 51: 23-29.

Wilkes, D.E. and D.J. Asai (2004) Dynein organization. Recent Res. Devel. Cell Sci. 1: 141-152.

Wilkes, D.E. and J.J. Otto (2003) Profilin functions in cytokinesis, nuclear positioning, and stomatogenesis in Tetrahymena thermophila. J. Eukaryot. Microbiol. 50: 252-262.

Wilkes, D.E. and J.J. Otto (2000) Molecular cloning of profilin from Tetrahymena thermophila. Gene 246: 295-301.