Cynthia K. Damer
Photo of Cynthia DamerProfessor and Assistant Chair
Department of Biology
Brooks Hall 229 (Office)
Dow 246 (Lab) 
989-774-3455 
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​​Education
  • B.A., Oberlin College, 1990
  • Ph.D., University of Virginia, 1995
  • Postdoc, Duke University, 1997-1999
​​Teaching Areas
Introductory Biology, Cell Biology, Biotechnology, Scientific Writing and Communication
Research Fields
Cell biology, genetics, microscopy
Current Research Projects
My lab is using the model organism, Dictyostelium discoideum, to study a family of proteins called copines. We have identified six copine genes in the Dictyostelium genome and have thus far focused our studies on one of these genes, copine A ( cpnA). We are currently working on several research projects related to copine protein function in Dictyostelium
  • Creating copine gene knockout mutants
    Knockout mutants in Dictyostelium can be created by using homologous recombination. We have created a cpnA- null mutant and plan to create various single and combination double and triple copine gene knockout mutants. Once we have created the mutants, we will characterize their mutant phenotypes. This project involves various molecular biology techniques including PCR, DNA cloning, gel electrophoresis, and transformation. 
  • Determining the specific roles of the different copine genes in Dictyostelium development
    Phenotype analysis of a cpnA- knockout mutant indicates that CpnA is required for normal development. We plan to analyze the developmental defect in cpnA knockout mutants in more detail using various microscopy techniques. Once the other copine mutants are made, we will extend these studies to the other copine proteins. 
  • Identifying the protein-binding partners of the copine proteins
    Identifying the protein-binding proteins of copines is crucial to understanding their function. We are using various biochemical and genetic techniques including affinity chromatography, yeast two-hybrid system, and immunoprecipitations to identify the protein-binding partners of CpnA. We plan to extend these studies to the other copine proteins in the future.​
Selected Publications
  • ​​Flegel, Kerry A, Pineda, Jaimie M, Smith, Tasha S, Laszczyk, Ann M, Price, Janet M, Karasiewicz, Kristen M and Cynthia K Damer. Copine A is expressed in prestalk cells and regulates slug phototaxis and thermotaxis in developing Dictyostelium. Development, Growth, and Differentiation, 53: 948-959 (2011).
  • Brady, Rebecca J, Damer, Cynthia K, Heuser, John, and Theresa J O’Halloran.  Epsin and Hip1r regulate the temporal and spatial coupling of actin filaments to coated pits. Journal of Cell Science, 23: 3652-3661 (2010). 
  • Smith, Tasha S, Pineda, Jaime M, Donaghy, Alex C, and Cynthia K Damer. Copine A plays a role in stalk cell differentiation and the initiation of culmination in Dictyostelium development. BMC Developmental Biology, 10: 59(2010). 
  • Damer, Cynthia K, Ho, Lilian K, Bayeva, Marina, Kim, Pamela S, Eberhardt, Eric S, Socec, Catherine I, Lee, Jennifer S, Bruce, Emily, Goldman-Yassen, Adam, and Lauren C Naliboff.  Copine A is required for normal cytokinesis, contractile vacuole function, and development in Dictyostelium.  Eukaryotic Cell, 6: 430-432 (2007). 
  • Damer, Cynthia K, Bayeva, Marina, Hahn, Emily S, Rivera, Javier, and Catherine I Socec.  Copine A, a calcium-dependent membrane binding protein, transiently localizes to the plasma membrane and intracellular vacuoles in Dictyostelium.  BMC Cell Biology, 6: 46 (2005).