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Vikki M Weake


  • Assistant Professor of Biochemistry
BCHM Room 320A

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Weake Lab

The Weake laboratory focuses on the interplay between chromatin and transcription during development using the fruitfly Drosophila as our primary model system. Our long-term goal is to understand how transcription is coordinated with other chromatin-based processes in developing versus differentiated, mature cells in metazoans. Some of the current projects underway in our laboratory include:

• Xinping Chen is examining age-related defects in response to light stress in Drosophila photoreceptors.

• Hana Hall studies transcriptional and epigenetic changes associated with aging in Drosophila photoreceptor neurons.

• Jingqun Ma studies transcriptional regulation in specific cell types, such as glial cells and photoreceptor neurons during the processes of development, aging and in response to stress.

• Rachel Stegeman investigates how splicing components within transcriptional machinery, such as in the SAGA complex, affect gene expression. She is interested in understanding how splicing and transcription are coordinated, and whether dysregulation of this coordination could have implications for gene expression during normal aging.

• Bob Stephenson and Eliana Torres Zelada work on understanding how DNA replication and transcription are coordinated with histone acetylation in specific cell types and developmental stages during the Drosophila cell cycle.  

We also have several undergraduate researchers in the laboratory: Kaelan Brennan studies changes in gene expression in the aging eye. Peyton Spreacker, Arryn Harris, Amy Bowman and Ben Anderson are identifying mutations that disrupt protein-interactions within the SAGA complex.  

Our studies are funded by NIH R01EY024905, the Showalter Trust, and the CTSI. 

We are actively seeking new graduate students, so if you are interested in finding out more about our research – please contact Dr. Weake (  

Selected Publications

Stegeman, R., Spreacker, P. J., Swanson, S. K., Stephenson, R. E., Florens, L., Washburn, M. P., & Weake, V. M. (2016). The Spliceosomal Protein SF3B5 is a Novel Component of Drosophila SAGA that Functions in Gene Expression Independent of Splicing. Journal of Molecular Biology, 428(18), 3632-49. doi:10.1016/j.jmb.2016.05.009

Ma, J., Brennan, K. J., D'Aloia, M. R., Pascuzzi, P. E., & Weake, V. M. (2016). Transcriptome Profiling Identifies Multiplexin as a Target of SAGA Deubiquitinase Activity in Glia Required for Precise Axon Guidance During Drosophila Visual Development. G3 (Bethesda, Md.), 6(8), 2435-45. doi:10.1534/g3.116.031310

Stephenson, R. E., Hosler, M. R., Gavande, N. S., Ghosh, A. K., & Weake, V. M. (2015). Characterization of a Drosophila ortholog of the Cdc7 kinase: a role for Cdc7 in endoreplication independent of Chiffon. The Journal of biological chemistry, 290(3), 1332-47. doi:10.1074/jbc.M114.597948

Ma, J., & Weake, V. M. (2014). Affinity-based isolation of tagged nuclei from Drosophila tissues for gene expression analysis. Journal of visualized experiments : JoVE, (85). doi:10.3791/51418

Mohan, R. D., Dialynas, G., Weake, V. M., Liu, J., Martin-Brown, S., Florens, L., . . . Abmayr, S. M. (2014). Loss of Drosophila Ataxin-7, a SAGA subunit, reduces H2B ubiquitination and leads to neural and retinal degeneration. Genes & development, 28(3), 259-72. doi:10.1101/gad.225151.113

Weake, V. M., Dyer, J. O., Seidel, C., Box, A., Swanson, S. K., Peak, A., . . . Workman, J. L. (2011). Post-transcription initiation function of the ubiquitous SAGA complex in tissue-specific gene activation. Genes & development, 25(14), 1499-509. doi:10.1101/gad.2046211

Weake, V. M., Swanson, S. K., Mushegian, A., Florens, L., Washburn, M. P., Abmayr, S. M., & Workman, J. L. (2009). A novel histone fold domain-containing protein that replaces TAF6 in Drosophila SAGA is required for SAGA-dependent gene expression. Genes & development, 23(24), 2818-23. doi:10.1101/gad.1846409

Weake, V. M., & Workman, J. L. (2008). Histone ubiquitination: triggering gene activity. Molecular Cell, 29(6), 653-63. doi:10.1016/j.molcel.2008.02.014

Weake, V. M., Lee, K. K., Guelman, S., Lin, C. H., Seidel, C., Abmayr, S. M., & Workman, J. L. (2008). SAGA-mediated H2B deubiquitination controls the development of neuronal connectivity in the Drosophila visual system. The EMBO journal, 27(2), 394-405. doi:10.1038/sj.emboj.7601966

Awards & Honors

(2010) Winner of Postdoctoral Oral Presentation. Stowers Institute for Medical Research, Crossroads Postdoctoral and Student Association Research Day..

(2005) Top Achiever Doctoral Scholarship. Foundation for Research, Science & Technology.

(2002) Massey Scholarship.

(2002) NZ Federation of Graduate Women Manawatu Branch Scholarship. Hildegard Gabriel Scholar (Predoctoral).

Department of Biochemistry, 175 South University Street, West Lafayette, IN 47907-2063 USA, (765) 494-1600

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