Robert E. Steele

picture of Robert E. Steele

Professor, Biological Chemistry
School of Medicine

Director, Developmental Biology Center
School of Biological Sciences

B.S., Indiana University
Ph.D., Yale University

Phone: (949) 824-7341
Fax: (949) 824-2688

University of California, Irvine
Mail Code: 1700
Irvine, CA 92697-1700
Research Interests
Hydra, developmental biology, evolution, genomics
Postdoctoral Fellow, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, WA, 1980-1986
Research Abstract
My laboratory has been using Hydra as a model system to investigate questions in developmental and evolutionary biology since I joined the UC Irvine faculty in 1986. In 1989, my lab published the first paper describing the cloning of a Hydra protein-coding gene. I was the corresponding author on the Hydra genome paper that was published in Nature in 2010. Hydra is well known for its regenerative powers, its robust patterning system, and its lack of senescence. We are using a variety of approaches to manipulate genes in Hydra in an attempt to understand the molecular foundations of the remarkable biology of this seemingly simple animal. Hydra is a member of the animal phylum Cnidaria, which is the sister group to Bilateria, the animal group that includes humans; thus our studies with Hydra will inform us about human biology.
Awards and Honors
Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science
Wang R, Steele RE, Collins ES (2020). Wnt signaling determines body axis polarity in regenerating Hydra tissue fragments. Dev Biol 467:88-94.
Steele RE (2020). Gene Editing: A Tool for Tackling Cephalopod Biology. Current Biology 30:R986-R988.
Brooun M, Klimovich A, Bashkurov M, Pearson BJ, Steele RE, McNeill H (2020). Ancestral roles of atypical cadherins in planar cell polarity. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 117:19310-19320.
Wong WY, Simakov O, Bridge DM, Cartwright P, Bellantuono AJ, Kuhn A, Holstein TW, David CN, Steele RE, Martínez DE (2019). Expansion of a single transposable element family is associated with genome-size increase and radiation in the genus Hydra. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 116:22915-22917.
Steele RE, Updegrove MD, Kirolos SA, Mowery L, Martínez DE, Bryant PJ (2019. Reproductive Bet-Hedging and Existence in Vernal Pools as Components of Hydra Life History. Biological Bulletin 237:111-118.
Gold DA, Katsuki T, Li Y, Yan X, Regulski M, Ibberson D, Holstein T, Steele RE, Jacobs DK, Greenspan RJ (2019). The genome of the jellyfish Aurelia and the evolution of animal complexity. Nature Ecology & Evolution 3:96-104.
Cochet-Escartin O, Locke TT, Shi WH, Steele RE, Collins ES (2017). Physical Mechanisms Driving Cell Sorting in Hydra. Biophysical Journal 113:2827-2841.
Carter, J. A., Hyland, C., Steele, R. E., Collins, E.-M. S. (2016). Dynamics of mouth opening in Hydra. Biophysical Journal 110:1191-1201.
Juliano, C. E., Lin, H., Steele, R. E. (2014). Generation of transgenic Hydra by embryo microinjection. Journal of Visualized Experiments, 91, DOI: 10.3791/51888.
Juliano, C. E., Reich, A., Liu, N., Uman, S., Reenan, R. A., Wessel, G., Steele, R. E., Lin, H. (2014). Analysis of the PIWI-piRNA pathway in Hydra reveals broad function in somatic adult stem cells. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, U.S.A., 111(1), 337-342.
Fidler, A. L., Vanacore, R. M., Chetyrkin, S., Pedchenko, V. K., Bhave, G., Yin, V. P., Stothers, C. L., Rose, K. L., McDonald, W. H., Clark, T., Borza, D.-B., Steele, R. E., Aspirnauts, T., Hudson, J. K., Hudson, B. G. (2014). A unique covalent bond in basement membranes is a primordial innovation for tissue evolution. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences U.S.A., 111(1), 331-336.
Glauber, K. M., Dana, C. E., Park, S. S., Colby, D. A., Noro, Y., Fujisawa, T., Chamberlin, A. R., Steele, R. E. (2013). A small molecule screen identifies a novel compound that induces a homeotic transformation in Hydra. Development, 140(23), 4788-4796.
Dana, C. E., Glauber, K. M., Chan, T. A., Bridge, D. M., Steele, R. E. (2012). Incorporation of a horizontally transferred gene into an operon during cnidarian evolution. PLoS One, 7(2), e31643.
Chapman, J. A., Kirkness, E. F., Simakov, O., Hampson, S. E., Mitros, T., Weinmaier, T., Rattei, T., Balasubramanian, P. G., Borman, J., Busam, D., Disbennett, K., Pfannkoch, C., Sutton, G. G., Sumin, N., Viswanathan, L. D., Walenz, B., Goodstein, D. M., Hellsten, U., Kawashima, T., Prochnik, S. E., Putnam, N. H., Shu, S., Blumberg, B., Dana, C. E., Gee, L., Kibler, D. F., Law, L., Lindgens, D., Martinez, D. E., Peng, J., Wigge, P. A., Bertulat, B., Guder, C., Nakamura, Y., Ozbek, S., Watanabe, H., Khalturin, K., Hemmrich, G., Franke, A., Augustin, R., Fraune, S., Hayakawa, E., Hayakawa, S., Hirose, M., Hwang, J. S., Ikeo, K., Nishimiya-Fujisawa, C., Ogura, A., Takahashi, T., Steinmetz, P. R.H., Zhang, X., Aufschnaiter, R., Eder, M.-K., Gorny, A.-K., Salvenmoser, W., Heimberg, A. M., Wheeler, B. M., Peterson, K. J., Böttger, A., Tischler, P., Wolf, A., Gojobori, T., Remington, K. A., Strausberg, R. L., Venter, J. C., Technau, U., Hobmayer, B., Bosch, T. C.G., Holstein, T. W., Fujisawa, T., Bode, H. R., David, C. N., Rokhsar, D. S., Steele, R. E. (2010). The dynamic genome of Hydra. Nature, 464, 592-596.
Professional Societies
American Society for Cell Biology
Society for Developmental Biology
Association of Biochemistry Educators
Graduate Programs
Cellular and Molecular Biosciences

Mathematical and Computational Biology

Research Center
Developmental Biology Center
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