Neil Hunter

Neil Hunter

Position Title

Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, College of Biological Sciences
Department of Cell Biology and Human Anatomy, School of Medicine

347C, Briggs Hall

Profile Introduction

The Hunter lab studies the mechanism and regulation of homologous recombination, an essential DNA-repair process required for genome stability and accurate chromosome segregation during meiosis.

Research Interests

Homologous Recombination.

The mechanism and regulation of chromosome repair by homologous recombination and its role in chromosome transmission and genome stability.

Post-Translational Protein Modification in Meiosis.

The nature and function of post-translational modifications of proteins involved in chromosome metabolism during meiosis.

Grad Group Affiliations

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

Specialties / Focus

  • Biochemistry
  • Cancer Biology
  • Cell Biology
  • Chromosome Biology
  • Chromosome Dynamics and Nuclear Function
  • Developmental Biology
  • Developmental Genetics
  • DNA Repair
  • Genomics, Proteomics and Metabolomics
  • Meiosis
  • Model Organism Genetics
  • Molecular Genetics
  • Reproductive Biology


  • BIS 101 Genes and Gene Expression, Winter
  • MIC 91/191 Introduction to Research, Spring
  • MIC 276 Adv Concepts DNA Metab, Spring
  • GGG 295 Seminars In Molecular Genetics, Fall


  • 345, 347 and 351 Briggs Hall
    • Graduate Students: Mary Corrigan, Shannon Owens. Postdoctoral Fellows and Research Scientists: Nikhil Bhagwat, Wei He, Dhananjaya Kulkarni, Prasad Rao, Sumit Sandhu, Masaru Ito, Yan Yun. Technician: Ping-ping Lu.

Honors and Awards

  • 1997-2001 Wellcome Trust - Prize Travelling Postdoctoral Fellowship
  • 1993-1996 Wellcome Trust - Prize PhD Studentship
  • 2003-2006 Damon Runyon Cancer Foundation - Scholar Award
  • 2004-2006 Concern Foundation - Young Investigator Award
  • 2005 March of Dimes - Basil O'Connor Award
  • 2006 France-Berkeley Fund Award
  • 2007 UCD Mutant Mouse Regional Resource Center Award
  • 2009 Early Career Scientist of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute
  • 2009-2014 Chancellor's Fellow
  • 2013 Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute
  • 2013 CBS Faculty Research Award
  • 2016 Elected Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology
  • 2016 Elected to the American Association for the Advancement of Science

    Professional Societies

    • The Genetics Society of America
    • American Association for the Advancement of Science
    • Society for Developmental Biology
    • American Society for Microbiology


    • 1992 BS Biochemistry and Applied Molecular Biology University of Manchester (UK)
    • 1996 PhD Genetics Wolfson College, Oxford University, Oxford (UK)


    Prasada Rao, H.B.D., Qiao, H., Bhatt, S.K., Bailey, L.R.J., Tran, H.D., Bourne, S.L., Qiu, W., Deshpande, A., Sharma, A.N., Beebout, C.J., Pezza, R.J. and Hunter, N.  (2017). A SUMO-ubiquitin relay recruits proteasomes to chromosome axes to regulate meiotic recombination. Science 355,403-407.

    Hunter, N. (2015). Meiotic recombination: the essence of heredity. Cold Spring Harb Perspect Biol.

    Tang, S., Wu, M.K.Y. Wu, Zhang, R. and Hunter, N. (2015). Pervasive and essential roles of the Top3-Rmi1 decatenase orchestrate recombination and facilitate chromosome segregation in meiosis. Molecular Cell 57, 607-21.

    Qiao, H, Rao, H.B.D.P, Yang, Y, Fong, J.H., Cloutier, J.M, Deacon, D.C., Nagel, K.E., Swartz, R.K., Strong, E., Holloway, J.K., Cohen, P.E., Schimenti, J., Ward, J., and Hunter, N. (2014). Antagonistic roles of ubiquitin ligase HEI10 and SUMO ligase RNF212 regulate meiotic recombination. Nature Genetics doi:10.1038/ng.2858

    Copsey, A., Tang, S*. Jordan, P., Blitzblau, H., Newcombe, S., Lambacher, N. Chan, A.C., Newnham, L., Li, Z., Arumugam, P., Hochwagen, A., Hunter, N., Hoffmann, E. (2013). Smc5/6 coordinates formation and resolution of joint molecules with chromosome morphology to ensure meiotic divisions. PLoS Genetics 9, e1004071, doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1004071

    *Shangming Tang from the Hunter lab is joint first author.

    Lao, J.P.*, Cloud, V., Grubb, J., Huang, C-C., Thacker, D., Lee, C-Y., Dresser, M.E., Hunter, N.† and Bishop(2013). Meiotic crossover control by concerted action of Rad51-Dmc1 in homolog template bias and robust homeostatic regulation. PLoS Genetics 9, e1003978, doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1003978

    *Jessica Lao from the Hunter lab is joint first author; Hunter and Bishop are corresponding authors.

    Reynolds, A., Qiao, H., Yang, Y., Chen, J., Biswas, K., Holloway, K., Baudat, F., de Massy, B., Wang. J., Höög, C., Cohen, P. and Hunter, N. (2012). RNF212 is a dosage-sensitive regulator of crossing-over during mammalian meiosis. Nature Genetics 45, 269–278. PMID: 23396135

    Qiao H., Chen, J., Reynolds, A., Höög, C., Paddy, M. and Hunter, N. (2012). Interplay between centromeres, synaptonemal complex and homologous recombination during mammalian meiosis. PLoS Genetics 8, e1002790. PMCID: PMC3386176

    Biswas, K., Das, R., Eggington, J.M., Huanyu Qiao, H., North, S.L., Stauffer, S., Burkett, S., Betty K. Martin, B.S., Southon, E, Sizemore, S.C., Pruss, D., Bowles, K.R., Roa, B.B., Hunter, N., Tessarollo, L., Wenstrup, R.J., Byrd, R.A. and Sharan, S.K. (2012). Functional evaluation of BRCA2 variants mapping to the PALB2 binding and C-terminal DNA binding domains using a mouse ES cell–based assay. Human Molecular Genetics 21, 3993-4006. PMCID: PMC3428152

    Zakheryevich, K, Tang, S., Ma, Y. and Hunter, N. (2012). Delineation of joint molecule resolution pathways in meiosis identifies a crossover-specific resolvase. Cell 149, 334-47.

    Hunter, N. (2011). Double Duty For Exo1 During Meiotic Recombination. Cell Cycle 10(16), 2607-2609.

    Hwang, Y-H. and Hunter, N. (2011). Mapping meiotic breaks: Spo11 oligonucleotides precisely mark the spots. Genome Biology 12, 111-114. doi:10.1186/gb-2011-12-4-111.

    Zakheryevich, K, Ma, Y., Tang, S., Hwang, Y-H., Boiteux, S. and Hunter, N. (2010). Temporally and biochemically distinct activities of Exo1 during meiosis: double-strand-break resection and resolution of double-Holliday Junctions. Molecular Cell, 40, 1001-1015.

    Lao, J.P. and Hunter, N. (2010). Trying to avoid your sister. PLoS Biology, 8(10): e1000519.

    Bzymek,M., Thayer, N. H., Oh, S. D., Kleckner, N. and Hunter, N. (2010). Double Holliday Junctions are Intermediates of DNA Break Repair. Nature 464, 937-941.

    Oh S.D., Lao, J.P. and Hunter, N. (2008). RecQ Helicase, Sgs1, and XPF-Family Endonuclease, Mus81-Mms4, Resolve Aberrant Joint Molecules During Meiotic Recombination. Molecular Cell 31, 324-336.

    Hunter, N. (2008). Hop1 and the meiotic DNA-damage response. Cell 132, 731-732.

    Hunter, N. (2008). The RecQ DNA helicases: Jacks-of all-trades or master-tradesmen? Cell Research 18, 328-330.

    Lao, J.P., Oh, S.D., Shinohara, M., Shinohara, A. and Hunter, N. (2008). Rad52 promotes post-invasion steps of meiotic double-strand-break repair. Molecular Cell, 29, 517-524.

    Shinohara, M, Oh, S.D., Hunter, N. and Shinohara, A. (2008). Crossover assurance and crossover interference are distinctly regulated by the ZMM/SIC proteins during meiosis. Nature Genetics, 40, 299-309.

    Oh S.D., Lao, J.P., Hwang, P.Y-H., Taylor, A.F., Smith, G.R. and Hunter, N. (2007). Sgs1, a Bloom's helicase ortholog, prevents aberrant crossing-over by suppressing the formation of multichromatid joint molecules. Cell 130, 259-272.

    Hunter, N. (2006). Meiotic Recombination. In, Molecular Genetics of Recombination, Aguilera, A. and Rothstein, R. (Eds), Topics in Current Genetics, Springer-Verlag, Heidelberg.

    Cromie, G. A., Hyppa, R. W., Taylor, A. F., Zakharyevich, K., Hunter, N., and Smith, G. R. (2006). Single Holliday Junctions are intermediates of meiotic recombination. Cell 127, 1167-1178.

    Martini, E., Diaz, R.L., Hunter, N. and Keeney, S. (2006). Crossover homeostasis in yeast meiosis. Cell 126, 285-295.

    Hunter, N. (2004). Meiosis. In, the Encyclopedia of Biological Chemistry, Lennarz, W. and Lane, M. (Eds), Elsevier Press, San Diego. pp 610-616.

    Boerner, V.G., Kleckner, N. and Hunter, N. (2004). Crossover/noncrossover differentiation, synaptonemal complex formation and regulatory surveillance at the leptotene/zygotene transition of meiosis. Cell 117, 29-45.

    de los Santos, T., Hunter, N., Lee, C., Larkin, B., Loidl, J., and Hollingsworth, N.M. (2003). The Mus81/Mms4 endonuclease acts independently of double-Holliday junction resolution to promote a distinct subset of crossovers during meiosis in budding yeast. Genetics, 164, 81-94.

    Blat, Y., Protacio, R., Hunter, N. and Kleckner, N. (2002). Physical and functional interactions among basic chromosome organizational features govern early steps of meiotic chiasma formation. Cell, 111 791-802.

    Hunter, N. and Kleckner, N. (2001). The single-end invasion: an asymmetric intermediate at the double-strand-break to double-Holliday junction transition of meiotic recombination. Cell 106, 59-70.