Bruce Draper

image of Bruce Draper

Associate Professor


Molecular & Cellular Biology

Offices and Labs

Life Science 3129
(530) 752-0833


1995 PhD Zoology University of Washington
1988 BA Biochemistry and Cellular Biology University of California, San Diego

Research Interests

Germline stem cells

We study mechanisms that regulate the development and function of germline stem cell in zebrafish, with a main focus on female germline stem cells. We study factors that function within the stem cells, as well as those that are required for the development of the somatic gonad, the germ cell niche.

Sex determination and maintenance of the adult sexual phenotype

While zebrafish do not switch sex as adults, our lab has recently discovered that maintenance of the adult female sexual phenotype is an active process that requires continuous input from germ cells, as reduction of germ cell numbers in an adult female results in female-to-male sex reversal. Our current research is focused on determining what signal is produced by the germ cells and how it influences the developmental state of the somatic gonad.

Development of the early somatic gonad

The mechanisms mediating the development of the somatic gonad in vertebrates during the transition from the sexually bipotential state to the sex-specified state are well defined. In contrast, far less is known about the genes acting earlier during formation of the undifferentiated gonad primordium. We recently discovered that a mutation in a zebrafish Fgf ligand, fgf24, results in the rapid loss of germ cells during early larval development, at a time prior to gonad differentiation. Our results suggest that the primary function of fgf24 is to promote the development of early somatic gonad cells, and that the loss of germ cells in fgf24 mutants is secondary to this defect. We are currently investigating the role of fgf24 in regulating the development of the early somatic gonad.


Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation Fellowship (1997-2000)

Department and Center Affiliations

Molecular and Cellular Biology


Society for Developmental Biology
Genetics Society of America

CBS Grad Group Affiliations

Integrative Genetics and Genomics
Biochemistry, Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology

Specialties / Focus

Biochemistry, Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology
  • Reproductive Biology
  • Cell Biology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Cancer Biology
  • Meiosis
  • Signal Transduction
  • Stem Cell Biology
  • Molecular Genetics
  • Cellular Responses to Toxins and Stress
  • Differentiation, Morphogenesis and Wound Healing
Integrative Genetics and Genomics
  • Developmental Genetics
  • Model Organism Genetics

Graduate Groups not Housed in CBS

Pharmacology and Toxicology (PTX)


Draper Lab website
  • Dena Leerberg (BMCDB)
  • Yana Blokhina (IGG)
  • Matthew McFaul (BMCDB)
  • Michelle Kossack (PTX)
  • Yulong Liu (BMCDB)
  • Rachel Hanz (Jr. Specialist)
  • Sydney Wyatt (IGG)

Teaching Interests

Developmental Biology, Genetics, Genomics


MCB 150 Developmental Biology (Winter)
BCB 251 Molecular Mechanisms in Early Development (Fall (odd years))


1/28/2013 9:56:21 AM
  • Leerberg, D.M., Sano, K. and Draper. B.W. Fibroblast growth factor signaling is required for early somatic gonad development in zebrafish. PLoS Genetics13(9), e1006993.

  • Webster, K.A., Schach, U., Ordaz, A., Steinfeld, J.S., Draper, B.W. & Siegfried, K.R. (217) Dmrt1 is necessary for male sexual development in zebrafish. Dev. Biol. 422, 33-46. PMID: 27940159

  • Dranow, D.B., Hu, K., Bird, A.M., Lawry, S.T., Adams, M.T., Sanchez, A., Amatruda, J.F. and Draper, B.W. (2016) Bmp15 is an oocyte produced signal required for maintenance of the adult female sexual phenotype in zebrafish. PLoS Genetics12(9), e1006323.

  • Dranow, D.B., Tucker, R.P. and Draper, B.W. (2013) Germ cells are required to maintain a stable sexual phenotype in adult zebrafish. Dev. Biol. 376, 43-50.

  • Beer, RL and Draper, B.W. (2013) nanos3 maintains germline stem cells and expression of the conserved germline stem cell gene nanos2 in the zebrafish ovary. Dev. Biol.374, 308-318.
  • Huang, H.Y., Houwing, S., Kaaij, L.J., Meppelink, A., Redl, S., Gauci, S., Vos, H., Draper, B.W., Moens, C.B., Burgering, B.M., Ladurner, P., Krijgsveld, J., Berezikov, E., and Ketting, R.F. (2011) Tdrd1 acts as a molecular scaffold for Piwi proteins and piRNA targets in zebrafish. EMBO J. 30(16): 3298-308.
  • Wong, A.C., Draper, B.W., and Van Eenennaam, A.L. (2011) FLPe functions in zebrafish embryos. Transgenic. Res. 20(2): 409-415.
  • Leu, D.H. and Draper, B.W. (2010) The ziwi promoter drives germline-specific expression in zebrafish. Dev. Dyn. 239, 2714-2721.
  • Houwing, S., Kamminga, L. M., Berezikov, E., Cronembold, D. Girard, A., van der Elst, H., Filippov, D. V., Blaser, H., Raz, E., Moens, C. B., Plasterk, R. H., Hannon, G. J., Draper, B. W., Ketting, R. F. (2007) A role for Piwi and piRNAs in germ cell maintenance and transposon silencing in zebrafish. Cell 129, 69-82.

  • Draper, B. W., McCallum, C. M. and Moens, C. B. (2007) nanos1 is required to maintain oocyte production in adult zebrafish. Dev. Bio. 305, 589-598.

  • Draper, B.W., McCallum, C.M., Stout, J.L., Slade, A.J. and Moens, C.B. (2004) A High-Throughput method for identifying ENU-induced point mutations in zebrafish. Method Cell Biol. 77, 91-112.
  • Draper, B.W., Stock, D. W. and Kimmel, C.B. (2003). Zebrafish fgf24 functions with fgf8 to promote posterior mesoderm development and is required for pectoral fin formation. Development 130, 4639-4654.