School of Medicine

Wayne State University School of Medicine

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Richard Needleman

Yeast molecular genetics: We have elucidated the maltose fermentation system in S. cerevisiae by cloning the genes of the polymeric MAL system, describing their organization, purifying the activator protein, identifying the activator binding sites in the MAL bi-directional promoter, studying the mechanism involved in the glucose repression of maltase, and studying the evolution of the telomeric MAL gene family through gene conversion. We are currently interested in our discovery of gene transvection at this locus. Transvection involves the regulation of gene expression by chromosomal pairing, but despite its intensive investigation in Drosophila, the mechanism is entirely unknown.

Proton and chloride transport: We have been interested in the mechanism involved in the light activated movement of protons and chloride mediated respectively by bacteriorhodopsin and halorhodopsin. Currently we are pursuing the use of mutant bacteriorhodopsins for three dimensional holographic data storage and for use in biosensors.

Differentiation agents in cancer: We have begun to investigate with William Brusilow of this Department a simple chemical (4- phenylbutrate) which has the ability to revert cancer cells to normal in vitro. It is currently under investigation in many Phase II clinical studies for a variety of neoplasms. Our interest is to determine the mechanism behind its action, using S. cerevisiae and mammalian cells.

Ph.D., CUNY, 1975

Research Areas : Control of enzyme synthesis in yeast; mitochondrial genetics; genetics of bacteriorhodopsin/halorhodopsin


Wang, J., Sirenko, O. & Needleman, R. (1997). Genomic footprinting of Mig1p in the MAL62 promoter. Binding is dependent upon carbon source and competitive with the Mal63p activator. J Biol Chem 272(7), 4613-22.

Brown LS, Needleman R, Lanyi JK. Conformational change of the E-F interhelical loop in the m photointermediate of bacteriorhodopsin. J Mol Biol. 2002 Mar 29;317(3):471-8.

Sasaki, J., Brown, L. S., Chon, Y. S., Kandori, H., Maeda, A., Needleman, R. & Lanyi, J. K. (1995). Conversion of bacteriorhodopsin into a chloride ion pump. Science 269(5220), 73-5.

Luecke, H., Schobert, B., Cartailler, J. P., Richter, H. T., Rosengarth, A., Needleman, R. & Lanyi, J. K. (2000). Coupling photoisomerization of retinal to directional transport in bacteriorhodopsin. J Mol Biol 300(5), 1237-55.

Grzanowski,A., Needleman, R. , and Brusilow, W.S.A. (2002) Immunosuppressant-like effects of phenylbutyrate on growth inhibition of Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Current Genetics, 41(3):142-9.