Albert J. Courey, Ph.D.

Laboratory Address:
Paul Boyer Hall 522, 536

Work Address:
Paul Boyer Hall 540

Professor, Chemistry and Biochemistry
Member, JCCC Gene Regulation Program Area
Research Interests
Transcriptional control in development During embryogenesis, a cluster of apparently undifferentiated cells is transformed into an ordered array of differentiated tissues. Using Drosophila as a model system, my research group combines biochemical and genetic approaches to study the molecular basis of this amazing transformation. Essentially all the regulatory circuits we study are conserved throughout the animal kingdom. Therefore, our studies have important implications for human health and development. The following two major projects are currently underway in the lab. 1) Spatial and temporal regulation of transcription in development. We have been extensively examining mechanisms of activation and repression by the Dorsal morphogen, a transcription factor that determines the dorsal/ventral axis during early development. This factor is the Drosophila homolog of the vertebrate regulatory protein NF-kB. Like Dorsal, NF-kB is involved in both the determination of embryonic polarity and in the innate immune response. Furthermore, both Dorsal and NF-kB are regulated by homologous signal transduction cascades that control transcription factor activity by regulating nuclear import. 2) Role of Sumo-conjugation in development. Sumo is a recently discovered member of the ubiquitin family that is conserved throughout all eukaryotes. This polypeptide is a substrate for a protein conjugation system, in which Sumo becomes covalently attached to numerous target proteins modifying their behavior in various ways. We are attempting to learn about the roles of Sumo in cell biology and development. Our analysis has revealed possible roles for this process in regulated nuclear import, embryonic pattern formation, the immune response, and the stress response. Additional information about my research program is available at the following address: Click for more information on Courey Lab.

Dr. Courey, who is from Buffalo, New York, joined the UCLA faculty in 1990 and was promoted to full professor in 1999. He has served the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry as Graduate Advisor (2003-2005), Vice Chair for Education (2001-2005), and Chair (2008-present). He also serves on the Advisory Committee of the Molecular Biology Interdepartmental Program and is one of the founders of the Gene Regulation Interdepartmental Program. Dr. Courey has instructed a course at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratories in Protein Purification and Characterization every spring since 1996. His lab uses Drosophila melanogaster as a model organism to study transcriptional control mechanisms as well as the cell and developmental biology of SUMO, a ubiquitin-family protein. Dr. Courey has authored a textbook entitled Mechanisms in Transcriptional Regulation (Blackwell Publishing Company). He is an avid pianist and holds a Bachelor's degree in Piano Performance from the Oberlin College Conservatory of Music.


A selected list of publications:

Turki-Judeh Wiam, Courey Albert J   Groucho a corepressor with instructive roles in development Current topics in developmental biology, 2012; 98: 65-96.
Turki-Judeh, W. and Courey, A.J.   The Unconserved Groucho Central Region is Essential for Visability and Modulates Target Gene Specificity PLoS One, 2012; 7(2): e30610.
Turki-Judeh Wiam, Courey Albert J   The unconserved groucho central region is essential for viability and modulates target gene specificity PloS one, 2012; 7(2): e30610.
Smith Matthew, Mallin Daniel R, Simon Jeffrey A, Courey Albert J   Small ubiquitin-like modifier (SUMO) conjugation impedes transcriptional silencing by the polycomb group repressor Sex Comb on Midleg The Journal of biological chemistry, 2011; 286(13): 11391-400.
Kuo, D., Nie, M., De Hoff, P., Chambers, M., Phillips, M., Hirsch, A.M.,Courey A.J.   A Sumo-groucho Q domain fusion protein: characterization and in vivo ulp1-mediated cleavage Protein Expression and Purification, 2010; .
Winkler, C.J., Ponce, A., Courey, A.J.   Groucho-mediated repression may result from a histone deacetylase-dependent increase in nucleosome density PloS One, 2010; 5(4): e10166.
Nie, M., Xiek, Y., Loo, J.A., Courey, A.J.   Genetic and proteomic evidence for roles of Drosophila SUMO in cell cycle control, Ras signaling, and early pattern formation PloS One, 2009; 4(6): e5905.
Ratnaparkhi, G.S., Duong, H.A., Courey, A.J.   Dorsal interacting protein 3 potentiates activation by Drosophila Rel homology domain proteins Developmental and Comparative Immunology, 2008; 32(11): 1290-300.
Duong, H.A., Nagaraj, R., Wang, C.W., Ratnaparkhi, G., Sun,Y.H., Courey, A.J.   Non-cell-autonomous inhibition of photoreceptor development by Dip3 Developmental Biology, 2008; 323(1): 105-13.
Duong, H.A., Wang, C.W., Sun, Y.H., Courey A.J.   Transformation of eye to antenna by misexpression of a single gene Mechanisms of Development, 2008; 125(1-2): 130-41.
Ratnaparkhi, G.S., Jia, S., Courey, A.J.   Uncoupling dorsal-mediated activation from dorsal-mediated repression in the Drosophila embryo Development (Cambridge, England), 2006; 133(22): 4409-14.
Qiao, F., Harada, B., Song, H., Whitelegge, J., Courey, A.J., Bowie, J.U.   Mae inhibits Pointed-P2 transcriptional activity by blocking its MAPK docking site The EMBO Journal, 2006; 25(1): 70-9.
Takanaka, Y., Courey A.J.   SUMO enhances vestigial function during wing morphogenesis Mechanisms of Development, 2005; 122(10): 1130-7.
Song, H., Nie, M., Qiao, F., Bowie, J.U., Courey, A.J.   Antagonistic regulation of Yan nuclear export by Mae and Crm1 may increase the stringency of the Ras response Genes & Development, 2005; 19(15): 1767-72.
Smith, M., Bhaskar, V., Fernandez, J., Courey, A.J.   Drosophila Ulp1, a nuclear pore-associated SUMO protease, prevents accumulation of cytoplasmic SUMO conjugates The Journal of Biological Chemistry, 2004; 279(42): 43805-14.
Qiao, F., Song, H., Kim, C.A., Sawaya, M.R., Hunter, J.B., Gingery, M., Rebay, I., Courey, A.J., Bowie, J.U.   Derepression by depolymerization; structural insights into the regulation of Yan by Mae Cell, 2004; 118(2): 163-73.
Song, H., Hasson, P., Paroush, Z., Courey, A.J.   Groucho oligomerization is required for repression in vivo Molecular and Cellular Biology, 2004; 24(10): 4341-50.
Bhaskar Vinay, Courey Albert J   The MADF-BESS domain factor Dip3 potentiates synergistic activation by Dorsal and Twist Gene, 2002; 299(1-2): 173-84.
Songtao, J., Flores-Saaib, R.D., Courey, A.J.   The Dorsal Rel homology domain plays an active role in transcriptional regulation Molecular and Cellular Biology, 2002; 22(14): 5089-99.
Jia, S., Flores-Saaib, R.D., Courey, A.J.   The Dorsal Rel homology domain plays an active role in transcriptional regulation Mol Cell Biol, 2002; 22(14): 5089-99.
Bhaskar, V., Smith, M., Courey, A.J.   Conjugation of Smt3 to dorsal may potentiate the Drosophila immune response Molecular and Cellular Biology, 2002; 22(2): 492-504.
Courey, A.J., Jia, S.   Transcriptional repression: the long and the short of it Genes Dev, 2001; 15(21): 2786-96.
Courey A.J., Jia S.   Transcriptional repression: the long and the short of it, Genes Dev, 2001; 15: 2786-96.
Flores-Saaib, R.D., Jia, S., Courey, A.J.   Activation and repression by the C-terminal domain of Dorsal Development (Cambridge, England) , 2001; 128(10): 1869-79.
Flores-Saaib, R.D., Courey, A.J.   Analysis of Groucho-histone interactions suggests mechanistic similarities between Groucho- and Tup1-mediated repression Nucleic Acids Res, 2000; 28(21): 4189-96.
Flores-Saaib, R.D., Courey, A.J.   Regulation of dorso/ventral patterning in the Drosophila embryo by multiple dorsal-interacting proteins Cell Biochem Biophys, 2000; 33(1): 1-17.
Bhaskar, V., Valentine, S.A., Courey, A.J.   A functional interaction between dorsal and components of the Smt3 conjugation machinery J Biol Chem, 2000; 275(6): 4033-40.
Chen, G., Fernandez, J., Mische, S., Courey, A.J.   A functional interaction between the histone deacetylase Rpd3 and the corepressor groucho in Drosophila development Genes Dev, 1999; 13(17): 2218-30.
Chen, G., Courey, A.J.   Baculovirus-transfer vector for eukaryotic expression and immunoaffinity purification of Gal4-fusion proteins Biotechniques, 1999; 26(5): 808-10, 812, 814.
Chen, G., Nguyen, P.H., Courey, A.J.   A role for Groucho tetramerization in transcriptional repression Molecular and Cellular Biology, 1998; 18(12): 7259-68.
Valentine, S. A., Chen, G., Shandala, T., Fernandez, J., Mische, S., Saint, R.,Courey, A. J.   Dorsal-mediated repression requires the formation of a multiprotein repression complex at the ventral silencer Mol Cell Biol, 1998; 18(11): 6584-94.
Dubnicoff, T., Valentine, S. A., Chen, G., Shi, T., Lengyel, J. A., Paroush, Z., Courey, A. J.   Conversion of dorsal from an activator to a repressor by the global corepressor Groucho Genes Dev, 1997; 11(22): 2952-7.
Shirokawa, J. M., Courey, A. J.   A direct contact between the dorsal rel homology domain and Twist may mediate transcriptional synergy Mol Cell Biol, 1997; 17(6): 3345-55.
Huang, J. D. Dubnicoff, T. Liaw, G. J. Bai, Y. Valentine, S. A. Shirokawa, J. M. Lengyel, J. A. Courey, A. J.   Binding sites for transcription factor NTF-1/Elf-1 contribute to the ventral repression of decapentaplegic Genes Dev, 1995; 9(24): 3177-89.
Courey, A. J. Huang, J. D.   The establishment and interpretation of transcription factor gradients in the Drosophila embryo Biochim Biophys Acta, 1995; 1261(1): 1-18.
Pan, D. Valentine, S. A. Courey, A. J.   The bipartite D. melanogaster twist promoter is reorganized in D. virilis Mech Dev, 1994; 46(1): 41-53.
Huang, J. D. Schwyter, D. H. Shirokawa, J. M. Courey, A. J.   The interplay between multiple enhancer and silencer elements defines the pattern of decapentaplegic expression Genes Dev, 1993; 7(4): 694-704.
Pan, D. Courey, A. J.   The same dorsal binding site mediates both activation and repression in a context-dependent manner Embo J, 1992; 11(5): 1837-42.
Pan, D. J. Huang, J. D. Courey, A. J.   Functional analysis of the Drosophila twist promoter reveals a dorsal-binding ventral activator region Genes Dev, 1991; 5(10): 1892-901.