Kerry Tucker


  • AB, Harvard College, 1990
  • PhD, MIT, 1997


I come from the North Shore of Massachusetts, and I studied biochemistry at Harvard College, starting my research career purifying clathrin proteins from sheep brain at Harvard Medical School. I continued my studies as a graduate student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in Cambridge, MA where I studied the role of DNA methylation in the development of the mouse, working in the lab of Rudolf Jaenisch. I then switched to developmental neuroscience as a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Yves-Alain Barde at the Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology in Munich, Germany, and subsequently as a group leader at the University of Heidelberg, Germany, from 2003 until 2013. In this time, I developed tools to visualize with fluorescent proteins the embryonic development of the central nervous system (CNS), using genetically-altered mice as a model. Since then, I have used these fluorescent mice to uncover new mutations in processes affecting central nervous system development. Just last year, my wife and I decided to return to the USA to raise our twin daughters in Maine. The lab is particularly interested in the functions of the subcellular structure called the primary cilium. Please see our research page for more details!!

Research Interests

In my time as a post-doctoral fellow, I developed tools to visualize with fluorescent proteins the embryonic development of the central nervous system (CNS), using genetically-altered mice as a model. My laboratory has discovered that primary cilia, a special microtubule-based organelle found in every cell, control early events in CNS development, including morphogenesis, boundary formation, neurogenesis, and nerve outgrowth. With a career based in Germany, I developed many international collaborations exploring the role of primary cilia in the development of a variety of CNS structures, including the forebrain, midbrain, and spinal cord. I am now moving into the analysis of postnatal phenotypes associated with loss of primary cilia in specific neuronal populations. We hope thereby to model some of the cognitive / neurodevelopmental defects seen in subsets of patients with so-called ciliopathies, multispectrum diseases associated with defects in proteins localizing to the primary cilium or the underlying basal body. In addition, we have recently begun to investigate the importance of primary cilia in causing some of the most common congenital heart defects seen in newborn babies.

Selected Publications

  • Parlato R, Mandl C, Hoelzl-Wenig G, Liss B, Tucker K L, Ciccolini F (2014) Regulation of proliferation and histone acetylation in embryonic neural precursors by CREB/CREM signaling.
    Neurogenesis 1(1): 1-13.
  • Neuser F, Polack M, Annaheim C, Tucker K L, Korte M (2013) Region-specific integration of embryonic stem cell-derived neuronal precursors into a pre-existing neuronal circuit.
    PLoS One, 8(6): e66497.
  • Willaredt M A; Gorgas K; Gardner H A R; Tucker K L (2012) Mulitple essential roles for primary cilia in heart development.
    Cilia 1:23
  • Sanno H; Shen X; Kuru N; Bormuth I; Bobsin K; Gardner H A R; Komljenovic D; Tarabykin V; Erzurumlu R; Tucker K L (2010) Control of postnatal apoptosis in the neocortex by RhoA-subfamily GTPases determines neuronal density.
    J Neurosci, 30(12):4221-4231
  • Willaredt M A; Hasenpusch-Theil K; Gardner H A R; Kitanovic I; Hirschfeld-Warneken V C; Gojak C P; Gorgas K; Bradford C L; Spatz J; Wölfl S; Theil T; Tucker K L (2008) A crucial role for primary cilia in cortical morphogenesis.
    J Neurosci, 28(48):12887-12900
  • Tucker K L; Meyer M; Barde Y-A (2001) Neurotrophins are required for nerve growth during development.
    Nat Neurosci, 4(1): 29-37
  • Scholl C; Weißmüller K; Pavlo Holenya P; Shaked-Rabi M; Tucker K L*; Stefan Wölfl* (2012) Distinct and overlapping gene regulatory networks in BMP- and HDAC-controlled cell fate determination in the embryonic forebrain. BMC Genomics 13:298
  • Brachmann I; Tucker K L (2011) Organotypic slice culture of GFP-expressing mouse embryos for real-time imaging of peripheral nerve outgrowth.
    J Vis Exp, 49: doi: 10.3791/2309
  • Shakèd M; Weissmüller K; Svoboda H; Hortschansky P; Nishino N; Wölfl S; Tucker K L (2008) Histone deacetylases control neurogenesis in embryonic brain by inhibition of BMP2/4 signaling.
    PLoS One, 3(7): e2668.
  • Brachmann I; Jakubick V C; Shaked M; Unsicker K; Tucker K L (2007) A simple slice culture system for the imaging of nerve development in embryonic mouse.
    Dev Dyn, 236(12):3514-3523
  • Wernig M; Benninger F; Schmandt T; Rade M; Tucker K L; Bussow H; Beck H; Brüstle O (2004)
    Functional integration of embryonic stem cell-derived neurons in vivo.
    J Neurosci, 24(22):5258-5268
  • Bibel M; Richter J; Schrenk K; Tucker K L; Staiger V; Korte M; Götz M; Barde Y-A (2004)
    Differentiation of mouse embryonic stem cells into a defined neuronal lineage.
    Nat Neurosci, 7(9):1003-1009
  • Andorfer C; Kress Y; Espinoza M; de Silva R; Tucker K L; Barde Y-A; Duff K; Davies P (2003)
    Hyperphosphorylation and aggregation of tau in mice expressing normal human tau isoforms.
    J Neurochem, 86(3):582-590
  • Benninger F.; Beck H; Wernig M; Tucker K L; Brüstle O; Scheffler B (2003)
    Functional integration of embryonic stem cell-derived neurons in hippocampal slice cultures.
    J Neurosci, 23(18):7075-7083
  • Heins N; Malatesta P; Cecconi F; Nakafuku M; Tucker K L; Hack M; Chapouton P; Barde Y-A; Goetz M (2002) Glial cells generate neurons: the role of the transcription factor Pax6.
    Nat Neurosci, 5(4):308-315
  • Yamashita T; Tucker K L; Barde Y-A (1999) Neurotrophin binding to the p75 receptor modulates Rho activity and axonal outgrowth. Neuron, 24(3):585-593
  • Tucker K L; Wang Y; Dausman J; Jaenisch R (1997)
    A transgenic mouse strain expressing four drug-selectable marker genes.
    Nucleic Acids Res, 25(18):3745-3746
  • Tucker K L; Talbot D; Lee M A; Leonhardt H; Jaenisch R (1996) Complementation of methylation deficiency in embryonic stem cells by a DNA methyltransferase mini-gene. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, 93(23):12920-12925
  • Tucker K L; Beard C; Dausman J; Jackson-Grusby L; Laird P; Lei H; Li E; Jaenisch R (1996) Germ-line passage is required for establishment of methylation and expression patterns of imprinted but not of nonimprinted genes.
    Genes Dev, 10(8):1008-1020
  • Assaad F; Tucker K L; Signer E (1993)
    Epigenetic repeat-induced gene silencing (RIGS). in Arabidopsis.
    Plant Mol Biol, 22(6):1067-1085
  • Tucker K L; Nathanson K; Kirchhausen T (1990)
    Sequence of the rat alpha-c large chain of the clathrin-associated protein complex AP-2.
    Nucleic Acids Res, 18(17):5306

Selected Services

University of New England

– Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee

– University Faculty Assembly

– Research & Scholarship Committee

– Academic Technology Committee

Anatomical Board of the State of Maine

Dissertation Students

Lindsey Avery Fitzsimons