Research Focus 
The mechanism of mRNA transport and localised translation in Drosophila. We are elucidating the cis-acting RNA signals and transacting factors that dictate the intracellular destination of mRNA and its localised translation in oocytes and neuromuscular junctions. 

Keywords:  RNA, Development, Drosophila, live cell imaging,  synaptic plasticity, neuromuscular junction

We welcome informal enquiries from prospective Post-Doc (email and PhD students (click here)

Cells are the fundamental unit of all life on earth. Understanding how cells function is a major goal of modern biology and is of major importance in medicine. Our lab is using flies as a model system to understand how molecules are actively sorted and distributed within cells. We are working to better understand how the growth and development of nerves is regulated. Furthermore, flies are an excellent model for many human diseases, including genetic disorders and infections. 

Research Projects

mRNA localisation and localised translation and their roles in establishing the body plan in the oocytes and embryos


mRNA transport and localised translation and its role in synaptic plasticity at the Neuromuscular junction (Ben Bleasdale and Ilan Davis)


Major Funding Sources
Wellcome Trust Senior Fellowship  Until 2017
Wellcome Trust Strategic Award: Advanced Imaging for Chromosome and RNA Dynamics (Micron) Until 2016


Localisation of gurken RNA injected into Drosophila egg chamber

Video by Kirsty Gill & Richard Parton
We use fluorescent proteins to track the movement of RNA through Drosophila, the animal system that we use in the lab. This video shows in-vitro transcribed gurken RNA localising to the dorsal-anterior corner of a stage 8 Drosophila egg chamber after injection.

Fly neuromuscular junction - 3D rotation

Video by Lu Yang
This is a 3-dimensional image of a Drosophila larva, showing the muscle wall and its associated neurons. The red part of the image is a neuron while the blue circular structures are muscle cell nuclei.

Selected Recent Publications                            
  1. Halstead JM, Lin YQ, Durraine L, Hamilton RS, Ball G, Neely GG, Bellen HJ, Davis I. (2014) Syncrip/hnRNP Q influences synaptic transmission and regulates BMP signaling at the Drosophila neuromuscular synapse. Biol Open. 3(9):839-49. pdf

  2. McDermott SM, Yang L, Halstead JM, Hamilton RS, Meignin C, Davis I. (2014) Drosophila Syncrip modulates the expression of mRNAs encoding key synaptic proteins required for morphology at the neuromuscular junction. RNA. 2014 Oct;20(10):1593-606 pdf
  3. Kaufmann R, Schellenberger P, Seiradake E, Dobbie IM, Jones EY, Davis I, Hagen C, Grünewald K. (2014) Super-resolution microscopy using standard fluorescent proteins in intact cells under cryo-conditions. Nano Lett. 14(7):4171-5. pdf
  4. Parton RM, Davidson A, Davis I, Weil TT. (2014) Subcellular mRNA localisation at a glance. J Cell Sci. 2014 127(Pt 10):2127-33. pdf
  5. McDermott SM, Davis I. (2013) Drosophila Hephaestus/polypyrimidine tract binding protein is required for dorso-ventral patterning and regulation of signalling between the germline and soma. PLoS One. 23;8(7) pdf
  6. Weil TT, Parton RM, Herpers B, Soetaert J, Veenendaal T, Xanthakis D, Dobbie IM, Halstead JM, Hayashi R, Rabouille C, Davis I. (2012). Drosophila patterning is established by differential association of mRNAs with P bodies. Nat Cell Biol. 1305-13. pdf
  7. McDermott SM, Meignin C, Rappsilber J, Davis I. (2012)Drosophila Syncrip binds the gurken mRNA localisation signal and regulates localised transcripts during axis specification. Biology Open 1, 488-497.pdf
  8. Weil TT, Parton RM, Davis I. (2012) .Preparing Individual Drosophila Egg Chambers for Live Imaging. J. Vis. Exp. (60), e3679. video
  9. Parton RM, Hamilton RS, Ball G, Yang L, Cullen CF, Lu W, Ohkura H, Davis I. (2011).  PAR-1-dependent orientation gradient of dynamic microtubules directs posterior cargo transport in the Drosophila oocyte. J Cell Biol. 194, 21-35. pdf   Podcast
  10. Brown A., Oddos, S., Dobbie, I., Alakoskela, J., Parton, R., Eissmann, P., Neil, M., Dunsby, C., French, P.,  Davis, I., Davis, D.. (2011) Remodelling of cortical actin where lytic granules dock at natural killer cell immune synapses revealed by super-resolution microscopy. Plos Biol. 9: 31001152. free pdf