Ben Montpetit

Ben Montpetit

Position Title
Assistant Professor

Department of Viticulture and Enology, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences

3150 Robert Mondavi Institute

Profile Introduction

mRNA export is an essential task in all eukaryotes due to the compartmentalization of the cell. Yet, despite the vital significance of this process to the gene expression program, many fundamental questions remain. These include: How does an mRNA transit through the nuclear pore complex? What proteins are involved in mRNA export? How is mRNA export regulated in response to stress? The Montpetit Lab is studying these fundamental cell biology questions with the goal of describing how components of the nuclear pore complex (NPC) direct and regulate mRNA export at a cellular, molecular and atomic level. Ultimately, this will allow us to better understand the interplay between nuclear mRNA export and gene expression. We are currently employing cell biology, biochemistry, structural biology, and single molecule imaging techniques in our studies. Together these approaches provide a unique and exciting opportunity to make critical insights into the mechanism of mRNA export. We perform this research in Saccharomyces cerevisiae due to the genetic, biochemical, and cell biological tools that are available, which in combination with the comprehensive knowledge about NPC function, make budding yeast an extremely powerful model system. Moreover, the high conservation of NPC components and transport machinery make the insights that we gain from our studies directly relevant to other eukaryotes, including humans.

Research Interests

Nuclear pore complexes and mRNA export in regulating gene expression

Grad Group Affiliations

  • Biochemistry, Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology

Specialties / Focus

  • Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology
  • Cellular Responses to Toxins and Stress
  • Chromosome Dynamics and Nuclear Function
  • Gene Regulation
  • Genomics, Proteomics and Metabolomics
  • Molecular Genetics
  • Molecular Microbiology
  • Organelle and Membrane Biology
  • RNA
  • Structural Biology

Honors and Awards

  • Canada Research Chair in RNA Transport (2012)

    Professional Societies

    • RNA Society
    • The American Society for Cell Biology


    • 2001 BSc Cell Biology Simon Fraser University
    • 2007 PhD Biochemistry University of British Columbia


    Juliana S Capitanio, Ben Montpetit and Richard W Wozniak. Human Nup98 regulates the localization and activity of DExH/D-box helicase DHX9.  eLife 2017;10.7554/eLife.18825.

    Yang N, Weinfeld M, Lemieux H, Montpetit B, and Goping IS. Photo-activation of the delocalized lipophilic cation D112 potentiates cancer selective ROS production and apoptosis. Cell Death & Disease (2017) 8, e2587; doi:10.1038/cddis.2017.19.

    Heinrich S, Derrer CP, Lari A, Weis K, Montpetit B. Temporal and spatial regulation of mRNA export: Single particle RNA-imaging provides new tools and insights. Bioessays. 2017 Volume 39, Issue 2.

    Paul B, Montpetit B. Altered RNA processing and export leads to retention of mRNAs near transcription sites, nuclear pore complexes, or within the nucleolus. Mol Biol Cell. 2016 Jul 6; in press. 

    Wong EV, Cao W, Vörös J, Merchant M, Modis Y, Hackney DD, Montpetit B, De La Cruz EM. Pi Release Limits the Intrinsic and RNA-Stimulated ATPase Cycles of DEAD-Box Protein 5 (Dbp5). J Mol Biol. 2016 Jan 29;428(2 Pt B):492-508. PubMed PMID: 26730886. 

    Smith C, Lari A, Derrer CP, Ouwehand A, Rossouw A, Huisman M, Dange T, Hopman M, Joseph A, Zenklusen D, Weis K, Grunwald D, Montpetit B. In vivo single-particle imaging of nuclear mRNA export in budding yeast demonstrates an essential role for Mex67p. J Cell Biol. 2015 Dec 21;211(6):1121-30. PubMed PMID: 26694837.

    Oeffinger M, Montpetit B. Emerging properties of nuclear RNP biogenesis and export. Curr Opin Cell Biol. 2015 Jun;34:46-53. Review. PubMed PMID: 25938908.

    Montpetit B, Seeliger MA, Weis K. Analysis of DEAD-box proteins in mRNA export. Methods Enzymol. 2012;511:239-54. PubMed PMID: 22713323.

    Montpetit B, Weis K. Cell biology. An alternative route for nuclear mRNP export by membrane budding. Science. 2012 May 18;336(6083):809-10. PubMed PMID: 22605737.

    Montpetit B, Thomsen ND, Helmke KJ, Seeliger MA, Berger JM, Weis K. A conserved mechanism of DEAD-box ATPase activation by nucleoporins and InsP6 in mRNA export. Nature. 2011 Apr 14;472(7342):238-42. PubMed PMID: 21441902.

    Burston HE, Maldonado-Báez L, Davey M, Montpetit B, Schluter C, Wendland B, Conibear E. Regulators of yeast endocytosis identified by systematic quantitative analysis. J Cell Biol. 2009 Jun 15;185(6):1097-110. PubMed PMID: 19506040.

    Montpetit B, Conibear E. Identification of the novel TRAPP associated protein Tca17. Traffic. 2009 Jun;10(6):713-23. PubMed PMID: 19220810.

    Rogic S, Montpetit B, Hoos HH, Mackworth AK, Ouellette BF, Hieter P. Correlation between the secondary structure of pre-mRNA introns and the efficiency of splicing in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. BMC Genomics. 2008 Jul 29;9:355. PMID: 18664289.

    Montpetit B, Hazbun TR, Fields S, Hieter P. Sumoylation of the budding yeast kinetochore protein Ndc10 is required for Ndc10 spindle localization and regulation of anaphase spindle elongation. J Cell Biol. 2006 Aug 28;174(5):653-63. PubMed PMID: 16923829.

    Yuen KW, Montpetit B, Hieter P. The kinetochore and cancer: what's the connection? Curr Opin Cell Biol. 2005 Dec;17(6):576-82. Review. PubMed PMID: 16233975.

    Montpetit B, Thorne K, Barrett I, Andrews K, Jadusingh R, Hieter P, Measday V. Genome-wide synthetic lethal screens identify an interaction between the nuclear envelope protein, Apq12p, and the kinetochore in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Genetics. 2005 Oct;171(2):489-501. PubMed PMID:15998715.

    Mahjoub MR, Montpetit B, Zhao L, Finst RJ, Goh B, Kim AC, Quarmby LM. The FA2 gene of Chlamydomonas encodes a NIMA family kinase with roles in cell cycle progression and microtubule severing during deflagellation. J Cell Sci. 2002 Apr 15;115(Pt 8):1759-68. PubMed PMID: 11950892.

    Abramovich C, Shen WF, Pineault N, Imren S, Montpetit B, Largman C, Humphries RK. Functional cloning and characterization of a novel nonhomeodomain protein that inhibits the binding of PBX1-HOX complexes to DNA. J Biol Chem. 2000 Aug 25;275(34):26172-7. PubMed PMID: 10825160.