Joseph McCormickAssociate Professor and Chair
Bayer School of Natural and Environmental Sciences
Mellon Hall 210A
Education:B.A., Biology and Chemistry, University of Delaware, 1982
Ph.D., Biological Sciences, University of Rochester, 1989
Postdoc, Molecular and Cellular Biology, Harvard University, 1992
Genetic Dissection of Prokaryotic Cytokinesis and Chromosome Segregation
My laboratory is interested in understanding the problem of how cells divide and how they faithfully segregate copies of their genomes. Our approach to this problem is to study cell division and chromsome segregation genes in a simple organism accessible to genetic manipulation. The organism I study is the filamentous soil bacterium Streptomyces coelicolor. This mycelial bacterium undergoes an elaborate cycle of cellular differentiation similar to that of certain filamentous fungi. During differentiation, aerial hyphal filaments are partitioned by extensive septation to form uninucleoid cells that further metamorphose into chains of spores.
In unicellular bacteria, cell division is required for growth and therefore is essential. However, my previous results demonstrate that septation is dispensable for vegetative growth of S. coelicolor, but still required for subdivision of aerial filaments during spore formation. Therefore, the advantage of using this system is that it is possible to isolate or construct mutants to analyze bacterial cytokinesis as a nonessential process using this filamentous bacterium while similar mutants would be lethal in unicellular organisms. I hope this approach will identify new genes involved in cell division, particularly those whose products are involved in imparting the positional information as to where the future sites of cell division will be.
Because of its complex life cycle, S. coelicolor offers an excellent system for studying regulation of morphological differentiation. My results suggest that cell division has been mainly co-opted for septation during spore formation in this organism. A second goal of my research is to analyze how cell division is regulated temporally and spatially such that it occurs synchronously in the aerial hyphae, the regions of the colony which are destined to become spores.
Bennett, J.A., G.V. Kandell, S.G. Kirk and J.R. McCormick. 2018. Visual and Microscopic Evaluation of Streptomyces Developmental Mutants. Journal of Visual Experimentation. In press.
Santos-Beneit, F., D.M. Roberts, S. Cantlay, J.R. McCormick and J. Errington. 2017. A mechanism for FtsZ-independent proliferation in Streptomyces. Nature Communications. 8:1378. doi: 10.1038/s41467-017-01596-z.
Flärdh, K. and J.R. McCormick. 2017. The Streptomyces O-B One Connection: A Force within Layered Repression of a Key Developmental Decision. Molecular Microbiology. 104:695-699. (MicroCommentary)
Kolber, B.J., M. Konsolaki, M.P. Verzi, C.R. Wagner, J.R. McCormick and K. Schindler. 2014. Sex-specific differences in Meiosis: real-world applications. CourseSource. 1:1-6.
McCormick, J.R. and K. Flärdh. 2012. Signals and Regulators that Govern Streptomyces Development. FEMS Microbiology Reviews. 36:206-231.
McCormick, J.R. 2009. Cell division is dispensable but not irrelevant in Streptomyces. Current Opinion in Microbiology. 12:689-698. (Cover Photograph)
Bennett, J.A., J. Yarnall, A.B. Cadwallader, R. Kuennen, P. Bidey, B. Stadelmaier and J.R. McCormick. 2009. Medium-dependent phenotypes of Streptomyces coelicolor with mutations in ftsI or ftsW. Journal of Bacteriology. 191:661-664.
Dedrick, R.M., Wildschutte, H. and J.R. McCormick. 2009. Genetic interactions of smc, ftsK and parB genes in Streptomyces coelicolor and their developmental genome segregation phenotypes. Journal of Bacteriology. 191:320-332.
Bennett, J.A., Aimino, R.M. and J.R. McCormick. 2007. Streptomyces coelicolor genes ftsL and divIC play a role in cell division, but are dispensable for colony formation. Journal of Bacteriology. 189:8982-8992.
Bentley, S.D., S. Brown, L.D. Murphy, D.E. Harris, M.A. Quail, J. Parkhill, B.G. Barrell, J.R. McCormick , R.I. Santamaria, R. Losick, M. Yamasaki, H. Kinashi, C.W. Chen, G. Chandra, D. Jakimowicz, H.M. Kieser, T. Kieser and K.F. Chater. 2004. SCP1, a 356 023 bp linear plasmid adapted to the ecology and developmental biology of its host, Streptomyces coelicolor A3(2). Molecular Microbiology. 51:1615-1628.
Grantcharova, N., W. Ubhayasekera, S.L. Mowbray, J.R. McCormick, and K. Flärdh. 2003. A missense mutation in ftsZ differentially affects vegetative and developmentally controlled cell division in Streptomyces coelicolor. Molecular Microbiology. 47:645-656.
Bennett, J.A. and J.R. McCormick. 2001. Two New Loci Affecting Cell Division Identified as Suppressors of an ftsQ-Null Mutation in Streptomyces coelicolor A3(2). FEMS Microbiology Letters. 202:251-256.
Schwedock, J., McCormick, J. R., Angert, E. R., Nodwell, J. R. and R. Losick. (1997) Assembly of the Cell Division Protein FtsZ into Ladder-Like Structures in the Aerial Hyphae of Steptomyces coelicolor. Molecular Microbiology. 25:847-858.
McCormick, J.R. and R. Losick (1996). Cell Division Gene ftsQ is required for Efficient Sporulation but not Growth and Viability in Streptomyces coelicolor A3(2). Journal of Bacteriology. 178:5259-5301.
McCormick, J.R., E.P. Su, A. Driks and R. Losick (1994). Growth and Viability of Streptomyces coelicolor Mutant for the Cell Division Gene ftsZ. Molecular Microbiology. 14:243-254.
McCormick, J.R., J.M. Zengel and L. Lindahl (1994). Correlation of Translation Efficiency with the Decay of a lacZ mRNA in Escherichia coli. Journal of Molecular Biology. 239:608-622.
National Academies Education Fellow in the Life Sciences, 2012-2013
2000 President's Award for Faculty Excellence in Teaching
Outstanding Assessment Award of Biological Sciences Undergraduate Mentoring System, Duquesne University, 2014. (joint award with B. Kolber)
Pittsburgh Bacterial Meeting 2018
Saturday, March 10, 2018
Mellon Hall, Duquesne University
Morning Platform Talks: Maurice Falk Hall - Mellon Hall, 1st Floor
Lunch: Africa Room of the Student Union
Afternoon Poster Session: Mellon Hall Foyer
Every year, the Department of Biological Sciences hosts a one-day meeting to bring together the bacteriology community in the Pittsburgh and tri-state area. While Principal Investigators attend the conference, the focus is on student presentations. Post docs and graduate students present their research in short talks and posters. This will be the 13th year (12th meeting) for PBM. Plan to attend to celebrate the important anniversary and our important contributions to the field.
PBM 2018 will be organized and hosted by Dr. Joseph McCormick and Dr. Wook Kim. Funding was generously provided by the Bayer School of Natural and Environmental Sciences and Fisher Scientific. Send inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The next Pittsburgh Bacterial Meeting, PBM 2019, will be held March 9, 2019.