Bruce W. Draper

Bruce Draper headshot

Position Title

  • Molecular and Cellular Biology
102D Briggs Hall

Research Interests

We study mechanisms that regulate the development and function of germline stem cell in zebrafish, with a main focus on female germline stem cells. We study factors that function within the stem cells, as well as those that are required for the development of the somatic gonad, the germ cell niche.

While zebrafish do not switch sex as adults, our lab has recently discovered that maintenance of the adult female sexual phenotype is an active process that requires continuous input from germ cells, as the reduction of germ cell numbers in an adult female results in female-to-male sex reversal. Our current research is focused on determining what signal is produced by the germ cells and how it influences the developmental state of the somatic gonad.

The mechanisms mediating the development of the somatic gonad in vertebrates during the transition from the sexually bipotential state to the sex-specified state are well defined. In contrast, far less is known about the genes acting earlier during formation of the undifferentiated gonad primordium. We recently discovered that a mutation in a zebrafish Fgf ligand, fgf24, results in the rapid loss of germ cells during early larval development, at a time prior to gonad differentiation. Our results suggest that the primary function of fgf24 is to promote the development of early somatic gonad cells and that the loss of germ cells in fgf24 mutants is secondary to this defect. We are currently investigating the role of fgf24 in regulating the development of the early somatic gonad.

Education and Degree(s)
  • 1988 B.A. in Biochemistry and Cellular Biology, University of California, San Diego
  • 1995 Ph.D. in Zoology, University of Washington
  • Yulong Liu, Michelle E Kossack, Matthew E McFaul, Lana N Christensen, Stefan Siebert, Sydney R Wyatt, Caramai N Kamei, Samuel Horst, Nayeli Arroyo, Iain A Drummond, Celina E Juliano, Bruce W Draper (2022) Single-cell transcriptome reveals insights into the development and function of the zebrafish ovary eLife 11:e76014.
  • Yan YL, Batzel P, Titus T, Sydes J, Desvignes T, BreMiller R, Draper B, Postlethwait JH. A Hormone That Lost Its Receptor: Anti-Müllerian Hormone (AMH) in Zebrafish Gonad Development and Sex Determination. Genetics. 2019 Oct;213(2):529-553. doi: 10.1534/genetics.119.302365. Epub 2019 Aug 9. PMID: 31399485; PMCID: PMC6781894.
  • Leerberg, D.M., Hopton, R.L. and Draper, B.W. (2019) Fibroblast growth factor receptors function redundantly during zebrafish embryonic development. Genetics 212, 1301-1319. PMID: 31175226
  • Kossack, M.E., High, S.K., Hopton, R.E., Yan, Y., Postlethwait, J.H. and Draper, B.W. (2018) Female sex development and reproductive duct formation depend on Wnt4a in zebrafish. Genetics 211, 219-233. PMID: 30446521
  • Blokhina, Y.P., Nguyen, A.D., Draper, B.W. and and  Burgess, S.M. (2018) The telomere bouquet is a hub where meiotic double-strand breaks, synapsis, and stable hololog juxtaposition are coordinated in the zebrafish Danio rerio. PLOS Genetics 15(1): e1007730. PMID: 30653507
  • Yan, Y.L., Desvignes, R/. BreMiller, R., Wilson, C., Dillon, D., High, S., Draper, B., Buck, C.L. and Postlethwait, J. (2017) The gonadal soma controls ovarian follicle proliferation through Gsdf in zebrafish. Dev. Dyn. 246(11), 925-945. PMID: 28856758