Daniel A. Starr

Dan Starr

Position Title

Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, College of Biological Sciences

Briggs Hall 139

Research Interests

Nuclear Positioning in Cell and Developmental Biology

There are many examples throughout development where nuclei or other organelles migrate to a new position in the cell. We are recently examining a nuclear migration event where the nucleus must deform to squeeze through a narrow opening. Once the nucleus has migrated to the correct location, there are mechanisms to anchor the nucleus there. Defects in nuclear positioning can lead to developmental defects and diseases such as Lisencephaly and Muscular Dystrophy. However, very little is known about the mechanisms of nuclear positioning. We are using the Nematode Caenorhabditis elegans as a model organism to study how nuclei and other organelles are positioned within a cell. We use imaging, genetic, biochemical, and molecular approaches to study this basic problem in cell biology.

Grad Group Affiliations

  • Biochemistry, Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology
  • Integrative Genetics and Genomics

Specialties / Focus

  • Cell Biology
  • Cell Division and the Cytoskeleton
  • Chromosome Dynamics and Nuclear Function
  • Developmental Biology
  • Developmental Genetics
  • Differentiation, Morphogenesis and Wound Healing
  • Model Organism Genetics
  • Molecular Genetics
  • Organelle and Membrane Biology


  • BIS 104 Cell Biology
  • BCB 210 Molecular Genetics


  • BESt lab, 139 Briggs http://www.mcb.ucdavis.edu/faculty-labs/starr/
    • Linda Ma, Hongyan Hao, Ellen Gregory, Jamie Ho

Honors and Awards

  • Basil O'Conner Scholar from the March of Dimes
  • 3x Finalist, ASUCD Excellence in Education Award
  • Faculty Development Award

    Professional Societies

    • American Society for Cell Biology


    • 1998 PhD Genetics Cornell University
    • 1992 BA Biology Colby College


    Z. Jahed, H. Hao, V. Thakkar,U.T. Vu, V.A. Valdez, A. Rathish, C. Tolentino, S.C.J. Kim, D. Fadavi, D.A. Starr, and M.R.K. Mofrad. 2019. Role of KASH domain lengths in the regulation of LINC complexes. Molecular Biology of the Cell. In Press.

    N. E. Cain, Z. Jahed, A. Schoenhofen, V. A. Valdez, B. Elkin, H. Hao, N. J. Harris, L. A. Herrera, B. M. Woolums, M. R. K. Mofrad, G. W. G. Luxton, and D. A. Starr. 2018. Conserved SUN-KASH interfaces mediate LINC complex-dependent nuclear movement and positioning. Current Biology. 28: 3086-3097.

    H. N. Fridolfsson, L. A. Herrera, J. N. Brandt, N. E. Cain, G. J. Hermann, and D. A. Starr. 2018. Genetic analysis of nuclear migration and anchorage to study LINC complexes during development of Caenorhabditis elegans. In: G. Gundersen, H. Worman (eds). The LINC Complex. Methods in Molecular Biology, 1840: 163-180. Humana Press, New York, NY.

    L. A. Herrera and D. A. Starr. 2018. The E3 ubiquitin ligase MIB-1 is necessary to form the nuclear halo in Caenorhabditis elegans sperm. G3: Genes|Genomes|Genetics. 8:2465-2570.

    J. Ho, V. A. Valdez, L. Ma and D. A. Starr. 2018. Characterizing Dynein’s Role in P-cell Nuclear Migration using an Auxin-Induced Degradation System. Micropublication:biology. https://doi.org/10.17912/W2W96J

    K. Lawarence, E. C. Tapley, V. E. Cruz, Q. Li, K. Aung, K. C. Hart, T. U Schwartz, D. A. Starr*, and J. Engebrecht*. 2016. LINC complexes license homologous recombination in part through microtubule-dependent inhibition of nonhomologous end joining. The Journal of Cell Biology. 215:801-821. (Highlighted in a “JCB: Spotlight” by Silva & Jantsch) http://jcb.rupress.org/content/215/6/801

    C. R. Bone, Y.-T. Chang, N. E. Cain, S. P. Murphy, and D. A. Starr. 2016. Nuclei migrate through constricted spaces using microtubule motors and actin networks in C. elegans hypodermal cells. Development. http://dx.doi.org/10.1242/dev.141192

    C. R. Bone and D.A. Starr. 2016. Nuclear migration events throughout development. The Journal of Cell Science 129: 1951-1961.

    C. R. Bone, E.C. Tapley, M. Gorjanacz, and D.A. Starr. 2014. The C. elegans SUN protein UNC-84 interacts with lamin to transfer forces from the cytoplasm to the nucleoskeleton during nuclear migration. Molecular Biology of the Cell. 25: 2853-2865.

    N. E. Cain, E.C. Tapley, K.L. McDonald, B.M. Cain, and D.A. Starr. 2014. The SUN protein UNC-84 is required only in force-bearing cells to maintain nuclear envelope architecture. The Journal of Cell Biology. 206: 163-172.

    G. W. G. Luxton and D. A. Starr. 2014. KASHing up with the nucleus: novel functional roles of KASH proteins at the cytoplasmic surface of the nucleus. Current Opinions in Cell Biology. 28: 69-75.

    Y.-T. Chang, D. Dranow, J. Kuhn, M. Meyerzon, M. Ngo, D. Ratner, K. Warltier, and D. A. Starr. 2013. toca-1 is in a novel pathway that functions in parallel with a SUN-KASH nuclear envelope bridge to move nuclei in Caenorhabditis elegans. Genetics.

    E. C. Tapley and D. A. Starr. 2012. Connecting the nucleus to the cytoskeleton by SUN-KASH bridges across the nuclear envelope. Invited Review in Current Opinions in Cell Biology.

    J. T. Morgan, E. R. Pfeiffer, T. L. Thirkill, G. Peng, H. N. Fridolfsson, G. C. Douglas, D.A. Starr*, and A. I. Barakat*. 2011. Nesprin-3 regulates endothelial cell morphology, perinuclear cytoskeletal architecture, and flow-induced polarization. Molecular Biology of the Cell. 22: 4324-4334.

    E. C. Tapley, N. Ly, and D. A. Starr. 2011. Multiple mechanisms actively target the SUN protein UNC-84 to the inner nuclear membrane. Molecular Biology of the Cell. 22: 1739-1752.

    R. Green, H. L. Kao, A. Audhya, S. Arur, J. R. Mayers, H. Fridolfsson, M. Schulman, S. Schloissnig, S. Niessen, K. Laband, S. Wang, D. A. Starr, A. Hyman, T. Schedl, A. Desai, F. Piano, K. C. Gunsalus, and K. Oegema. 2011. A high-resolution C. elegans essential gene network based on phenotypic profiling of a complex tissue. Cell. 145: 470-482.

    H. N. Fridolfsson and D. A. Starr. 2010. Kinesin-1 and dynein at the nuclear envelope mediate the bidirectional migrations of nucle. The Journal of Cell Biology 191: 115-128.

    D. A. Starr and H. N. Fridolfosson. 2010. Interactions between nuclei and the cytoskeleton are mediated by SUN-KASH nuclear-envelope bridges. Annual Reviews of Cell and Developmental Biology, 26: 421-444.

    H. N. Fridolfsson, N. Ly, M. Meyerzon, and D. A. Starr. 2010. UNC-83 coordinates kinesin-1 and dynein activities at the nuclear envelope during nuclear migration. Developmental Biology 338: 237-250.

    M. D. McGee, I. Stagljar, and D. A. Starr. 2009. KDP-1 is a nuclear envelope KASH protein required for cell cycle progression. The Journal of Cell Science. 122: 2895-2905.

    M. Meyerzon, H. N. Fridolfsson, N. Ly, F. J. McNally, and D. A. Starr. 2009. UNC-83 is a nuclear-specific cargo adaptor for kinesin-1 mediated nuclear migration. Development 136: 2725-2733.

    M. Meyerzon, Z. Gao, J. Liu, J. C. Wu, C. J. Malone, and D. A. Starr. 2009. Centrosome attachment to the C. elegans male pronucleus is dependent on the surface area of the nuclear envelope. Developmental Biology 327: 433-446.

    M. D. McGee, R. Rillo, A. S. Anderson, and D. A. Starr. 2006. UNC-83 is a KASH protein required for nuclear migration and is recruited to the outer nuclear envelope by a physical interaction with the SUN protein UNC-84. Molecular Biology of the Cell 17; 1790-1901.

    R. M. Grady*, D. A. Starr*, G. Ackerman, J. R. Sanes, and M. Han. 2005. Syne proteins anchor muscle nuclei at the neuromuscular junction. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 102: 4359-4364.

    D. A. Starr, and M. Han. 2002. Role of ANC-1 in tethering nuclei to the actin cytoskeleton. Science 298: 406-409.

    K. K. Lee*, D. A. Starr*, M. Cohen, J. Liu, M. Han, K. L. Wilson, and Y. Gruenbaum. 2002. Lamin-dependent localization of UNC-84, a protein required for nuclear migration in C. elegans. Molecular Biology of the Cell 13: 892-901.

    D. A. Starr, G. J. Hermann, C. J. Malone, W. Fixsen, J. R. Priess, H. R. Horvitz, and M. Han. 2001. UNC-83, a novel component of the nuclear envelope is essential for nuclear migration. Development 128: 5039-5050.