Liriodendron tulipifera flower

The University of North Carolina
A Department of the North Carolina Botanical Garden


Collectors of the UNC Herbarium

Mark Alan Peifer

(b. 8 November 1958 )

Information compiled January 2006 by Carol Ann McCormick,
Assistant Curator of the University of North Carolina Herbarium.

Mark Peifer is documenting the flora of Alamance County, North Carolina, where he resides. The University of North Carolina Herbarium has approximately 470 specimens collected by Dr. Peifer, but that number will increase as he continues his collecting activities. He frequently collects with his daughters, Rose Lorraine Peifer and Lillian Claire McCormick, and with his spouse, Carol Ann McCormick.

B. A. St. Olaf College, Northfield, Minnesota 1980

Ph.D. Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts 1988 Thesis title: "Analysis of the abx/bx and bxd/pbx regulatory regions of the ultrabithorax gene" Advisor: Welcome Bender, Ph.D.

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill: initial appointment, 1992; Welsh Distinguished Professor in the Biology Department, 2001-2005; Hooker Distinguished Professor 2006.  He aspires to be named “Curator of Alamance County Plants” for the UNC Herbarium.


Research Interest:

Biomedical science has twin goals; to explain the many amazing properties of our own bodies and those of other animals, and to use this information to reveal the causes of disease and to suggest possible treatments. We work at the interface between cell and developmental biology, focusing on the epithelial tissues that form the basic architectural unit of our bodies and of those of other animals. Epithelial tissues like skin, lung, colon, and breast are affected in many cancers. To explore underlying causes of epithelial tumors and to understand the basic cellular machinery that links cell adhesion, signal transduction and cytoskeletal regulation, we focus on the Armadillo/ß-catenin protein. It is mutated in colon and other cancers, and it is also critical for normal embryonic development. Cancer results from alterations in normal cell behaviors. Drosophila Armadillo and its vertebrate homolog ß-catenin play key roles both in cell-cell adherens junctions, initiating the formation of epithelial tissues, and as transducers of Wingless/Wnt family cell-cell signals. We study these processes in the fruit fly Drosophila, combining classical and molecular genetics with cell biology and biochemistry, and thus capitalizing on the speed of this model system and its synergy with vertebrate cell biology.

Selected references:

McCartney, B.M., Price, M.H., Webb, R., , Hayden, M.A., Holot, L., Zhou, M, Bejsovec, A., and Peifer, M. (2006). Testing hypotheses for the functions of APC family proteins using null and truncation alleles in Drosophila. Development 133: 2407-2418.

Price, M.H., Roberts, D.M., McCartney, B.M., Jezuit, E., and Peifer, M. (2006). Cytoskeletal dynamics and cell signaling during planar polarity establishment in the Drosophila embryonic denticle. Journal of Cell Science, in press.

Gates, J., and Peifer, M. (2005). Can 1000 reviews be wrong? Actin, alpha-catenin and adherens junctions. Cell 123, 769-772.

Fox, D.T., Homem, C.C.F., Myster, S.H., Wang, F., Bain, E.E., and Peifer, M. (2005). Rho1 Regulates Drosophila Adherens Junctions Independently of p120ctn. Development 132, 4819-4831.

Harris, T.J.C., and Peifer, M. (2005). The positioning and segregation of apical cues during epithelial polarity establishment in Drosophila. Journal of Cell Biology 170, 813-823.

McEwen,D.G., and Peifer, M. (2005). Puckered, a Drosophila MAPK phosphatase, ensures cell viability by antagonizing JNK-induced apoptosis. Development 132, 3935-3946.

Harris, T.J.C., and Peifer, M. (2004). Decisions, decisions: beta-catenin chooses between adhesion and transcription. Trends in Cell Biology15, 2345-237.

Harris, T.J.C., and Peifer, M. (2004). Adherens junction-dependent and -independent steps in the establishment of epithelial cell polarity in Drosophila. Journal of Cell Biology165, 135-147.

Grevengoed, E.E., Fox, D.T., Gates, J., and Peifer, M. (2003). Balancing different types of actin polymerization at distinct sites: Roles for Abelson kinase and Enabled. Journal of Cell Biology 163, 1267-1280.

McCartney, B.M., and Peifer, M. (2003). Stem Cells in the News: CNN and APC Make Headlines. Developmental Cell 5, 532-4.

Myster, S.H., Cavallo, R., Anderson, C.T., Fox, D.T., and Peifer, M. (2003). Drosophila p120catenin plays a supporting role in cell adhesion but is not an essential adherens junction component. The Journal of Cell Biology 160, 433-449.

Peifer, M. (2002). Developmental Biology: Colon construction. Nature 420, 274-276.

Peifer, M., and McEwen, D.G. (2002). The ballet of morphogenesis: unveiling the hidden choreographers. Cell 109, 271-274.

Akong, K. McCartney., B.M., and Peifer, M. (2002). Drosophila APC1 and APC2 have overlapping roles in the larval brain despite their distinct intracellular localizations. Developmental Biology 250, 71-90.

Akong, K., Grevengoed, E.E., Price, M.H., McCartney., B.M., Hayden, M.A., DeNofrio, J.C. and Peifer, M. (2002). Drosophila APC1 and APC2 playoverlapping roles in Wingless signaling in the embryo and imaginal discs. Developmental Biology 250, 91-100.

Grevengoed, E.E., Loureiro, J.J., Jesse, T.L., and Peifer M. (2001). Abelson kinase regulates epithelial morphogenesis in Drosophila. Journal of Cell Biology , 155, 1185-1197.

McCartney, B.M., McEwen, D.G., Grevengoed, E., Maddox, P., Bejsovec, A., Peifer, M. (2001). Drosophila APC2 and Armadillo participate in tethering mitotic spindles to cortical actin. Nature Cell Biology 3, 933-938.

Simcha, I., Kirkpatrick, C., Sadot, E., Shtutman, M. Polevoy, G., Geiger, B., Peifer, M., and Ben-Ze’ev, A. (2001). Cadherin Sequences that Inhibit ß-catenin Signaling: a Study in Yeast and Mammalian Cells. Molecular Biology of the Cell 12: 1177-88.

Tepass, U., Truong, K., Godt, D., Ikura, M., Peifer, M. (2000). Cadherins in embryonic and neural morphogenesis. Nature Reviews: Molecular Cell Biology 1: 91-100.

Adam, J.C., Pringle, J.R., and Peifer, M. (2000). Evidence for functional differentiation among Drosophila septins in cytokinesis and cellularization. Molecular Biology of the Cell 11: 3123-3135.

Peifer, M. (2000). Travel bulletin: traffic jams cause tumors. Science 289: 67-69.

McEwen, D.G., Cox, R.T., and Peifer, M. (2000). The canonical Wg and JNK signaling cascades collaborate to promote both dorsal closure and ventral patterning. Development 127: 3607-3617.

Cox, R.T., McEwen, D.G., Myster, D.G., Duronio, R.J., Loureiro, J., and Peifer, M. (2000). A screen for mutations that suppress the phenotype of Drosophila armadillo, the b-catenin homolog. Genetics 155: 1725-1740.

McCartney, B.M., and Peifer, M. (2000). Teaching tumor suppressors new tricks. Nature Cell Biol. 2: E58-60.

Peifer, M., and Polakis, P. (2000). Wnt signaling in oncogenesis and embryogenesis: A look outside the nucleus. Science 287: 1606-1609.

Peifer, M., and Tepass, U. (2000). Cell Biology: Which way is up? Nature 403: 611-612.

McCartney, B., Dierick, H.A., Kirkpatrick, C., Moline, M.M., Baas, A., Peifer, M., and Bejsovec, A. (1999) Drosophila APC2 is a cytoskeletally-associated protein that regulates Wingless signaling in the embryonic epidermis. Journal of Cell Biology 146: 1303-1318.

Peifer, M. (1999). Signal transduction: Neither straight nor narrow. Nature 400: 213-215.

Cox, R.T., Pai, L.-M., Kirkpatrick, C., Stein, J., and Peifer, M. (1999). Roles of the C-terminus of Armadillo in Wingless signaling in Drosophila. Genetics 153: 319-332.

Cox, R.T., Pai, L.-M., Miller, J.R., Orsulic, S., Stein, J., McCormick, C.A., Audeh, Y., Wang, W., Moon, R.T., and Peifer, M. (1999). Membrane-tethered Drosophila Armadillo cannot transduce Wingless signal on its own. Development 126: 1327-1335.

Lu, Q., Paredes, M., Medina, M., Zhou, J., Cavallo, R., Peifer, M., Orecchio, L. and Kosik, K.S. (1999). Delta-catenin, an adhesive junction-associated protein which promotes cell scattering. J. Cell Biol. 144: 519-532.

van Es, J.H., Kirkpatrick, C., van de Wetering, M., Molenaar, M., Miles, A., Kuipers, J., Destree, O., Peifer, M., and Clevers, H. (1999). Identification of APC2, a homologue of the adenomatous polyposis coli tumour suppressor. Current Biology 9: 105-108.

Cavallo, R.A., Cox, R.T., Moline, M.M., Roose, J., Polevoy, G.A., Clevers, H., Peifer, M., and Bejsovec, A. (1998). Drosophila TCF and Groucho interact to repress Wingless signaling activity. Nature 395: 604-608.

Loureiro, J., and Peifer, M. (1998). The roles of Armadillo, a Drosophila catenin, during central nervous system development. Current Biology 8: 622-632.

Pai, L.-M., Orsulic, S., Bejsovec, A. and Peifer, M. (1997). Negative regulation of Armadillo, a Wingless effector in Drosophila. Development 124: 2255-2266.

van de Wetering, M., Cavallo, R., Dooijes, D., van Beest, M., van Es, J., Loureiro, J., Ypma, A., Hursh, D., Jones, T., Bejsovec, A., Peifer, M., Mortin, M., and Clevers, H. (1997). Armadillo co-activates transcription driven by the product of the Drosophila segment polarity gene dTCF. Cell 88: 789-799.

Peifer, M. (1997). ß-catenin as oncogene--the smoking gun. Science 275: 1752-1753.

Orsulic, S., and Peifer, M. (1996). An in vivo structure-function study of Armadillo, the ß-catenin homolog, reveals both separate and overlapping regions of the protein required for cell adhesion and for Wingless signaling. J. Cell Biol. 134: 1283-1301.

Cox, R., Kirkpatrick, C., and Peifer, M. (1996). Armadillo is required for adherens junction assembly, cell polarity and morphogenesis during Drosophila embryogenesis. J. Cell Biol. 134: 133-148.

Pai, L.-M., Kirkpatrick, C., Blanton, J., Oda, H., Takeichi, M., and Peifer, M. (1996). a-catenin and DE-cadherin occupy distinct binding sites on Drosophila Armadillo that differ substantially in size. J. Biol. Chem. 271: 32411-32420.

Fares, H., Peifer, M., and Pringle, J.P. (1995). Localization and possible functions of Drosophila septins. Mol. Biol. Cell 6: 1843-1859.

Peifer, M. (1995) Cell adhesion and signal transduction--the Armadillo connection (review). Trends Cell Bio. 5: 224-229.

Kirkpatrick, C., and Peifer, M. (1995) Not just glue- cell-cell junctions as cellular signaling centers (review). Curr. Opin. Genet. Devel. 5: 56-65.

Rauskolb, C., Smith, K., Peifer, M., and Wieschaus, E. (1995) extradenticle determines segmental throughout Drosophila development. Development 121: 3663-3673.

Peifer, M., Pai, L.-M., and Casey, M. (1994). Phosphorylation of the Drosophila adhesive junction protein Armadillo: roles for Wingless signal and Zeste white-3 kinase. Dev. Biol. 166: 543-556.

Peifer, M., Sweeton, D., Casey, M., and Wieschaus, E. (1994) wingless signal and Zeste-white 3 kinase trigger opposing changes in the intracellular distribution of Armadillo. Development 120: 369-380.


   Curriculum in Ecology                 North Carolina Botanical Garden               Biology Department
      Curriculum                               North Carolina                                 UNC
       In Ecology                              Botanical Garden                   Biology Department


University of North Carolina Herbarium
CB# 3280, Coker Hall
University of North Carolina
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3280
phone: (919) 962-6931
fax: (919) 962-6930

Last Updated: 17 December 2010