Skip to Content, Skip to Site Navigation, Skip to Section Navigation, Skip to Search
Indiana University Bloomington

Department of Biology

Faculty & Research

Faculty Profile

Miriam Zolan

Photo of Miriam Zolan
Research Images
Research photo by Miriam Zolan

A wild-type chromosome spread hybridized with fluorescently labeled probes for two regions of chromosome 13.

Research photo by Miriam Zolan

Wild-type (left) and rad9-1 (right) Coprinus cinereus mushrooms.

Research photo by Miriam Zolan

An oligonucleotide array hybridized with cDNAs expressed in meiotic cells.

Professor of Biology
Contact Information
By telephone: 812-855-6694
JH A400B
Genome, Cell & Developmental Biology
Research Area
Chromatin, Chromosomes, and Genome Integrity

Ph.D., Stanford University, 1983


Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science
Member, Faculty Colloquium on Excellence in Teaching (FACET)

2000 Teaching Excellence Recognition Award
2001, 2008 Trustees' Teaching Award

Research Description

The work in my laboratory focuses on genes whose products are necessary for two fundamental activities of eukaryotes, the detection and repair of DNA damage, and the production of gametes by meiosis.  It is known that many of the molecular processes of meiosis echo processes of some kinds of DNA repair:  homologous sequences synapse; chromosome breaks are made and repaired; and chromatin structure is altered.  Therefore, it is likely that many of the gene products involved in these processes are the same.  We study the basidiomycete Coprinus cinereus, in which meiosis is naturally synchronous and meiotic cells are particularly amenable to cytogenetic, molecular, and biochemical analyses.  The C. cinereus genome has been sequenced and annotated, and genetic and molecular tools for working with this organism are well established.

Our initial genetic analysis revealed four genes required for the survival of gamma irradiation and for meiosis, which function in a common pathway for DNA damage repair.  Three of the genes encode proteins previously identified in other organisms and known universally as Mre11, Rad50, and Nbs1, which form a complex required for DNA double-strand break repair, chromosome stability, and meiosis in diverse organisms, including humans. The fourth gene we identified in the pathway, initially called rad9, encodes a large, proline-rich protein whose homologs in other organisms have been shown to affect mitotic sister-chromatid cohesion, gene expression, chromatin structure, and development.  The human homolog of rad9, nipbl, encodes a protein defective in about half of the known cases of Cornelia de Lange syndrome, a severe developmental disorder.  We have shown that the Rad9/Nipbl protein is required for meiotic sister chromatid cohesion and homolog pairing, and that its function in pairing is partially distinct from its role in cohesion.

Current work in the lab is focused on three inter-related areas.  We are investigating the meiotic roles of the Mre11/Rad50/Nbs1 complex, with particular emphasis on the roles of the complex and individual proteins in recombination, synapsis, and meiotic sister-chromatid interactions.  We are studying how proteins called cohesins, which are essential for the maintenance of sister-chromatid cohesion, associate with meiotic chromosomes, and the changes in cohesin associations in the absence of sister chromatids or recombination.  Finally, in collaboration with Pat Pukkila’s lab at the University of North Carolina, we developed whole-transcriptome microarrays, and have used them to study meiotic transcription on a genome-wide level.  As part of this study, we identified genes coordinately regulated with those encoding Mre11, Rad50, and Nbs1, and we are developing high-throughput methods to screen these genes for roles in meiosis.

An additional interest of mine is in helping Biology graduate students prepare for their roles as future faculty, by giving them hands-on practice in designing lessons, and working with them in the study of current topics in teaching and learning.  I participate in this graduate training both at the departmental level, by teaching a graduate seminar (Mentored Teaching), and at the University level, by participation in a Teagle Foundation-funded program (, in which doctoral students are guided in the process of becoming reflective teachers and in the preparation of teaching portfolios.

Select Publications
Zolan, M. E. and P. J. Pukkila.  2009.  Meiotic cytogenetics in Coprinus cinereus. In Methods in Molecular Biology:  Meiosis (Ottowa:  Humana Press, Inc.), 115-127.
Tsuchiya, D., B. D. Eads, and M. E. Zolan.  2009. Methods for meiotic chromosome preparation, immunofluorescence, and fluorescence in situ hybridization in Daphnia pulex. In Methods in Molecular Biology:  Meiosis (Ottowa:  Humana Press, Inc.), 235-249.
Many, A. M., C. S. Melki, O. P. Savytskyy, D. S. Maillet, S. N. Acharya, and M. E. Zolan.  2009. Meiotic localization of Mre11 and Rad50 in wild type, spo11-1, and MRN complex mutants of Coprinus cinereus.  Chromosoma 118:  471-486.
Acharya, S.N., Many, A.M., Schroeder, A.P., Kennedy, F.M., Savytskyy, O.P., Grubb, J.T., Vincent, J.A., Friedle, E.A., Celerin, M., Maillet, D.S. Palmerini, H.J., Greischar, M.A., Moncalian, G., Williams, R.S., Tainer, J.A., and Zolan, M.E.  2008.  Coprinus cinereus rad50 mutants reveal an essential structural role for Rad50 in axial element and synaptonemal complex formation, homolog pairing, and meiotic recombination.  Genetics 180:1889-1907.
Zolan, M. E., S. Strome and R. Innes.  2004.  Decoding genetics and molecular biology:  sharing the movies in our heads.  New Directions for Teaching and Learning 98:  23-32.
Casselton, L. A. and M. E. Zolan. 2002. The art and design of genetic screens: filamentous fungi. Nature Reviews Genetics 3, 683 - 697.
Cummings, W. J., S. T. Merino, K. Young, E. Sierra, C. W. Johnson, L. Li and M. E. Zolan.  2002.  The Coprinus cinereus adherin Rad9 functions in Mre11-dependent DNA repair, meiotic sister chromatid cohesion, and meiotic homolog pairing.  Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 99: 14958-14963.
Merino, S. T., W. J. Cummings, S. N. Acharya, M. Celerin and M. E. Zolan. 2000. Replication dependent early meiotic requirement for Spo11 and Rad50. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 97: 10477-10482.
Gerecke, E. E. and M. E. Zolan. 2000. An mre11 mutant of Coprinus cinereus has defects in meiotic chromosome pairing, condensation and synapsis. Genetics 154: 1125-1139.
Celerin M., S. T. Merino, J. E. Stone, A, M. Menzie, M. E. Zolan. 2000. Multiple roles of Spo11 in meiotic chromosome behavior. EMBO J 19: 2739-2750.

View more publications »

Copyright © 2017 | The Trustees of Indiana University | Copyright Complaints | Privacy Notice Intranet | Site Index | Contact Us