Neil Hunter


Position Title
Professor and HHMI Investigator

Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, College of Biological Sciences

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, Sunkyung Lee. Postdoctoral Fellows and Research Scientists: Nikhil Bhagwat, Wei He, Dhananjaya Kulkarni, Sumit Sandhu, Yan Yun. Technician: Ping-ping Lu.

Honors and Awards

  • 2018 UC Davis Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Mentoring Undergraduate Research

  • 2016 Elected to the American Association for the Advancement of Science

  • 2016 Elected to the American Academy of Microbiology

  • 2013 HHMI Investigator Award

  • 2013 UC Davis College of Biological Sciences, Faculty Research Award

  • 2009-2014 UC Davis Chancellor’s Fellow

  • 2009-2015 HHMI Early Career Scientist Award

  • 2007 UCD Mutant Mouse Regional Resource Center Award

  • 2006 France-Berkeley Fund Award

  • 2005 March of Dimes Basil O’ Connor Award (declined)

  • 2004-2006 Concern Foundation Young Scholar Award

  • 2003-2006 Damon Runyon Cancer Foundation Scholar Award

  • 2003 American Cancer Society, Institutional Research Grant

  • 1997- 2001 Wellcome Trust, Prize Traveling Postdoctoral Fellowship

  • 1993-1996 Wellcome Trust, Prize Graduate Studentship

  • 1992 B.S., First Class with honors

    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)


    Bhagwat, N., Owens, S., Boinapalli, J., Ditzel, A., Chen, J., Johnson, J., Krogan, N. and Hunter, N. (2019). Delineation of the SUMO-modified proteome reveals regulatory roles throughout meiosis. Preprint: BioRxiv doi: 

    Bozdag, G.O., Ono, J., Denton, J.A., Karakoc, E., Hunter, N., Leu, J-Y. and Greig, D. (2019). Engineering recombination between diverged yeast species reveals genetic incompatibilities. Preprint: BioRxiv doi:

    Sandhu S.†, Salmon L.J., Hunter J.E. Wilson C.L., Perkins N.D., Hunter N., Davies O.R., McClurg U.L..(2019). A Pseudo-Meiotic Centrosomal Function of TEX12 in Cancer. Preprint: BioRxiv doi:

    †Sumit Sandhu from the Hunter lab is joint first author.

    He, W., Prasada Rao, H.B.D.P., Tang, S., Bhagwat, N., Kulkarni, D., Chang, M., Hall, C., Chen, X., Hollingsworth, N., Singh, L., Cejka, P. and Hunter, N. (2018). Regulated proteolysis of MutSγ controls meiotic crossing over. Mol. Cell  doi: 10.1016/j.molcel.2020.02.001

    Yun, Y., Ito, M., Sandhu, S. and and Hunter, N. (2019). Cytological monitoring of meiotic crossovers in spermatocytes and oocytes. Homologous Recombination: Methods and Protocols, Methods in Molecular Biology. Editors Andres Aguilera, PhD and Aura Carreira. In press.

    Yun, Y., Wei , Z. and Hunter, N. (2019). Maternal obesity enhances oocyte chromosome abnormalities associated with aging. Chromosoma.

    Qiao, H., Prasada Rao, H.B.D., Yun, Y., Sandhu, S., Fong, J.H., Sapre, M., Nguyen, M., Tham, A., Van, B., Chng, T.Y.H., Lee, A. and Hunter, N. (2018). Impeding DNA break repair enables oocyte quality control. Molecular Cell 18, 211-221.e3. PMCID: PMC6426715

    Hunter, N. (2017). Oocyte Quality Control: Causes, Mechanisms, and Consequences. Cold Spring Harb Symp Quant Biol. 82, 235-247. doi: 10.1101/sqb.2017.82.035394. PMID: 31286204

    Owens, S., Tang, S. and Hunter, N. (2018). Monitoring recombination during meiosis in budding yeast. Mechanisms of DNA Recombination and Genome Rearrangements. Methods in Enzymology. Eds. Anna Malkova and Maria Spies. 601, 275-307. PMID: 29523236

    Hunter, N. (2017). Oocyte Quality Control: Causes, Mechanisms, and Consequences. Cold Spring Harb Symp Quant Biol. 82, 235-247. doi: 10.1101/sqb.2017.82.035394. PMID: 31286204

    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. PMID:


    Hunter, N. (2015). Meiotic recombination: the essence of heredity. Cold Spring Harb Perspect Biol. doi: 10.1101/cshperspect.a016618. PMID: 26511629

    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. PMID: 25699709. PMCID: PMC4791043

    Qiao, H., Prasada Rao, H.B.D., Yang, Y., Fong, J.H., Cloutier, J.M., Deacon, D.C., Nagel, K.E., Swartz, R.K., Strong, E., Holloway, K., Schimenti, J., Ward, J. and Hunter, N. (2014). Antagonistic roles of ubiquitin ligase HEI10 and SUMO ligase RNF212 regulate meiotic recombination. Nature Genetics 46:194-9. 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., Neil 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 Dmc1-Rad51 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.

    Sasanuma, H., Tawaramoto, M.S., Lao, J.P., Hosaka, H., Sanda, E., Suzuki, M., Yamashita, E., Hunter, N., Shinohara, A., A. Nakagawa, A., Shinohara, A. (2013). A new protein complex promoting the assembly of Rad51 filaments. Nature Communications doi: 10.1038/ncomms2678.

    Lao, J.P., Tang, S. and Hunter, N. (2013). Native/Denaturing Two-Dimensional DNA Electrophoresis And Its Application To The Analysis Of Recombination Intermediates. In, Methods in Molecular Biology, DNA Electrophoresis: Methods and Protocols (Totowa, Humana Press).

    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. (2013). RNF212 is a dosage-sensitive regulator of crossing-over during mammalian meiosis. Nature Genetics 45, 269-78.

    Biswas, K., Das, R., Eggington, J.M., 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

    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

    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.

    Hunter, N. (2010). Meiosis. In, The Encyclopedia of Biological Chemistry 2nd Edition, Lennarz, W. and Lane, M. (Eds), Elsevier Press, San Diego.

    *revision of the 2004 publication.

    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., Jessop, L., Lao, J.P., Lichten, M.J. and Hunter, N. (2009). Stabilization and Electrophoretic Analysis of Meiotic Recombination Intermediates in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. In, Methods in Molecular Biology, Meiosis Methods and Protocols, Scott Keeney, ed. (Totowa, Humana Press).

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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 multi-chromatid joint molecules. Cell 130, 259-272.

    Hunter, N. (2006). Meiotic Recombination. In, Topics in Current Genetics, Molecular Genetics of Recombination, Aguilera, A. and Rothstein, R. (Eds), Springer-Verlag, Heidelberg, pp. 381-442.

    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.

    McDougall, A., Elliot, D.J. and Hunter, N. (2005). Pairing, connecting, exchanging, pausing and pulling chromosomes: Meeting on the cell-cycle regulation of meiosis. EMBO Reports, 6, 120-125.

    Hunter, N. (2004). Meiosis. In, The Encyclopedia of Biological Chemistry, 1st Edition, Lennarz, W. and Lane, M. (Eds), Elsevier Press, San Diego, pp. 610-616.

    Börner, 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. 

    Hunter, N. (2003). Synaptonemal complexities and commonalities. Molecular Cell, 12, 533-535.

    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.

    † these authors contributed equally to this work

    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.

    Hunter, N., Börner, G.V., Lichten, M. and Kleckner, N. (2001). -H2AX illuminates meiosis. Nature Genetics, 27, 236-238.

    Wang, T.F., Kleckner, N. and Hunter, N. (1999). Functional specificity of MutL homologs in yeast: evidence for three Mlh1-based heterocomplexes with distinct roles during meiosis in recombination and mismatch correction. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 96, 13914-13919.

    Hunter, N. and Borts, R.H. (1997). Mlh1 is unique among mismatch repair proteins in its ability to promote crossing-over during meiosis. Genes Dev, 11, 1573-1582.

    Chambers, S.R., Hunter, N., Louis, E.J. and Borts, R.H. (1996). The mismatch repair system reduces meiotic homeologous recombination and stimulates recombination-dependent chromosome loss. Mol Cell Biol, 16, 6110-6120.

    Hunter, N., Chambers, S.R., Louis, E.J. and Borts, R.H. (1996). The mismatch repair system contributes to meiotic sterility in an interspecific yeast hybrid. EMBO J, 15, 1726-1733.

    Nemeth, A.H., Hunter, N., Coleman, M.P., Borts, R.H., Louis, E.J. and Davies, K.E. (1993). Rescue of a single yeast artificial chromosome from a cotransformation event utilizing segregation at meiosis. Genet Anal Tech Appl, 10, 123-127.