Biological Sciences

Faculty Research

Tomer Avidor Reiss






Professor, University of Toledo, Toledo, USA
Assistant Professor, Harvard Medical School, Boston, USA
Postdoc, University of California, San Diego, United States (Charles Zuker)
Ph.D. Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel (Zvi Vogel)
M.Sc. Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel (Daphne Atlas)
B.Sc. Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel   

Office:  WO4259B
Phone: 419-530-1993




Our research

We started our life as a single cell (the zygote) that was produced when the sperm fertilized the egg.  This cell contained all the information to create an adult made of trillions of cells.  Most of these adult cells must have two structures known as the centrioles, which are essential for building the cell’s antenna (the cilium) and skeleton (cytoskeleton) as well as for accurate cell division.  How the zygote got its first two centrioles is a mystery and is the focus of our research. 



We know that the egg does not provide centrioles, so the origin of all the centrioles in our body is from the sperm of the father.  However the sperm have only one centriole, so where does the second centriole come from?  Using fruit flies as a model animal, we have discovered that the sperm has a new type of centriole that may solve this mystery and we named it the Proximal Centriole Like or PCL (see figure).  This centriole structure is so small and different from the canonical centriole that it was missed in the past.  We hypothesize that a similar atypical centriole structure is found in the human sperm and are currently searching for it.  This is significant as, this atypical centriole may be the explanations to infertile couples that do knot know why they are infertile and have no treatment for their infertility.


Ciliogenesis: During my postdoctoral research in the lab of Charles Zuker in the University of California, I studied the mechanism of cilia formation. To identify the genes required for cilia formation, I have developed a novel bioinformatic screen and found a large collection of genes required for cilia formation. To study the role of these genes in ciliogenesis, I have developed an experimental platform in Drosophila and showed, using genetic tools, that a subgroup of these genes encodes components of a ciliary transport pathway unique to cilia.  This work has discovered many of the ciliary proteins that were studied in the last decade of ciliary research.  One conclusion made in this study is that the flagellum of sperm cells are formed in a unique way that we named cytoplasmic ciliogenesis, as in this type of ciliogenesis the cilium axoneme is exposed to the cytoplasm.  Recently we have discovered that cytoplasmic cilia are formed due to the migration of the cilium gate (the transition zone) away from the centriole exposing the axoneme to the cytoplasm.  This finding opens a new challenge, to understand how the cilium gate, that is thought to be anchored to the cilium base, migrates along the cilium.



Centrosome assembly: My first work as an independent investigator was the discovery that Asterless/Cep152 is a key regulator in the initiation of centriole duplication. Before our publication, for nearly ten years, it was believed that Asterless was only essential for the function of the mature centrosome. Nonetheless, we showed that Asterless is instead essential for centriole duplication and that the absence of aster formation in asterless mutants is due to their lack of centrioles.  Although initially our work encountered skepticism because it counters strong dogmatic belief, since then our conclusion has been verified by many groups and is now accepted as an undebated fact.  My second line of investigation in centrosome assembly involves studying centrosome biogenesis in Drosophila using biochemistry.  Many in our field considered it is too difficult and consequently, such biochemistry experiments have not been employed by others. After investing much time, thought, and effort, we successfully performed this type of study.  By combining centrosome biochemistry with Drosophila genetics, we have found that Sas-4 forms several complexes of PCM proteins.  We then showed that Tubulin, the building block of microtubules, functions as a switch like regulatory subunit that regulates the formation of the PCM complexes, and centrosome function. 


Current Students:



Graduate students 

Katerina Turner, Ph.D. candidate

Sushil Khanal, Ph.D. candidate

Jasiwal, Ankit, Ph.D. candidate


Current Laboratory Grants:

- R21 HD092700            Avidor-Reiss (PI)        09/11/2017–05/31/2019          (Total of $408,476)
Developing an animal model to identify the role of the sperm centriole in fertility
The major goal of this project is to study develop a rabbit expressing POC1-Neon to study the role of sperm centrioles.

- R03 HD087429            Avidor-Reiss (PI)        07/18/2016–06/30/2018          (Total of $144,500)
A Genome-wide Drosophila RNAi Screen for Regulators of Centrosome Reduction

- R01 R01GM098394    Avidor-Reiss (PI)        02/01/2012–01/31/2018          (Total of $1,651,244)
The Mechanism of Pericentriolar Material Assembly During Centrosome Biogenesis
The major goal of this project is to study the mechanism of pericentriolar material assembly during centrosome biogenesis in Drosophila melanogaster.

- NSF-IIP 1640274         Avidor-Reiss (PI)        05/01/2016–10/31/2017          (Total of $50,000)
I-Corps:  Quantitative Diagnosis of Sperm Quality
The major goal of this project is to identify the commercial need for male factor infertility test.




  1. Fishman EL, Jo K, Nguyen QPH, Kong D, Royfman R, Cekic AR, Khanal S, Miller A, Simerly C, Schatten G, Loncarek J, Mennella V, and Avidor-Reiss T.  A Novel Atypical Sperm Centriole is Functional During Human Fertilization.  Nature Communications- Accepted
  2. Fishman EL, Jo K, Ha A, Royfman R, Zinn A, Krishnamurthy M, Avidor-Reiss T. Atypical centrioles are present in Tribolium sperm. Open Biol. 2017 Mar;7(3). pii: 160334. doi: 10.1098/rsob.160334. PubMed PMID: 28298310.
  3. Avidor-Reiss T, Ha A, Basiri ML. Transition Zone Migration: A Mechanism for Cytoplasmic Ciliogenesis and Postaxonemal Centriole Elongation. Cold Spring Harb Perspect Biol. 2017 Jan 20. pii: a028142. doi: 10.1101/cshperspect.a028142. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 28108487
  4. Khire, A., Jo, K., Kong, D., Akhshi, T., Blachon, S., Cekic, A., Hynek, S., Ha, A., R,, Loncarek, J., Mennella, V., Avidor-Reiss T. Curr Biol. (2016). Centriole Remodeling During Spermiogenesis in Drosophila. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2016.07.006;
  5. Khire A, Vizuet AA, Davila E, Avidor-Reiss T. Asterless Reduction during Spermiogenesis Is Regulated by Plk4 and Is Essential for Zygote Development in Drosophila. Curr Biol. 2015 Nov 16;25(22):2956-63. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2015.09.045. Epub 2015 Oct 17. PMID: 26480844
  6. Avidor-Reiss T, Leroux MR. Shared and Distinct Mechanisms of Compartmentalized and Cytosolic Ciliogenesis. Curr Biol. 2015 Dec 7;25(23):R1143-50. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2015.11.001.
  7. Ha, A., Polyanovsky, A., and Avidor-Reiss, T. Drosophila Hook-Related Protein (Girdin) is Essential for Sensory Dendrite Formation. Genetics. 2015 Jun 9. pii: genetics.115.178954. [Epub ahead of print]
  8. Avidor-Reiss T, Khire A, Fishman EL, Jo KH. Atypical centrioles during sexual reproduction. Front Cell Dev Biol. 2015 Apr 1;3:21. doi: 10.3389/fcell.2015.00021. eCollection 2015. Review.
  9. Basiri ML, Ha A, Chadha A, Clark NM, Polyanovsky A, Cook B, Avidor-Reiss T.  A migrating ciliary gate compartmentalizes the site of axoneme assembly in Drosophila spermatids. Curr Biol. 2014 Nov 17;24(22):2622-31. PubMed PMID: 25447994; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4254545
  10. From the cytoplasm into the cilium: Bon voyage. Malicki J, Avidor-Reiss T. Organogenesis. 2014 May 2;10(1).
  11. Blachon S, Khire A, and Avidor-Reiss T.  The Origin of the Second Centriole of the Zygote.  Genetics. Early Online February 13, 2014, doi:10.1534/genetics.113.160523
  12. Basiri, ML. Blachon S.  Chim, YCF, and Avidor-Reiss T. Imaging Centrosomes in Fly Testes.  The Journal of Visualized Experiments 2013 Sep 20;(79):e50938. doi: 10.3791/50938.
  13. Avidor-Reiss T. Gopalakrishnan J. Cell Cycle Regulation of the Centrosome and Cilium. Drug Discovery Today: Disease Mechanisms 2013
  14. Gopalakrishnan, J, Chim, YCF, Ha, A, Basiri, ML, Lerit DA, Rusan NM, and Avidor-Reiss, T. Tubulin nucleotide status controls Sas-4-dependent pericentriolar material recruitment. Nature Cell Biol. 2012 Aug;14(8):865-73. doi: 10.1038/ncb2527.
  15. Avidor-Reiss T andGopalakrishnan J.Building a Centriole.  Curr Opin Cell Biol. 2012 Nov 27. doi:pii: S0955-0674(12)00180-9. 10.1016/
  16. Avidor-Reiss T. Gopalakrishnan J. Blachon S. Polyanovsky A.  Centriole duplication and inheritance in Drosophila melanogaster.  The Centrosome: Cell and Molecular Mechanisms of Functions and Dysfunctions in Disease" ed. by Heide Schatten. Edited by Heide Schatten. 2012; Chapter 1: Centriole duplication and inheritance in Drosophila melanogaster.  Springer Science and Business Media
  17. Gopalakrishnan J, Mennella V, Blachon S, Zhai B, Smith AH, Megraw TL, Nicastro D, Gygi SP, Agard DA, and Avidor-Reiss, T. Sas-4 Scaffolds Cytoplasmic PCM Complexes and Tethers them to the Centriole.  Nature Communications.  2011 Jun 21;2:359. doi: 10.1038/ncomms1367.
  18. Gopalakrishnan J, Guichard P, Smith A, Schwarz H, Agard D, Marco S, and Avidor-Reiss T.  Self-Assembling SAS-6 Multimer is a Core Centriole Building Block.  J Biol Chem. 2010 Mar 19; 285(12):8759-70
  19. Avidor-Reiss T.  The cellular and developmental program connecting the centrosome and cilium duplication cycle.  Semin Cell Dev Biol. 2010 Apr;21(2):139-41.
  20. Blachon S, Cai X, Roberts KA, Yang K, Polyanovsky A, Church A, and Avidor-Reiss T.  A Proximal Centriole-Like Structure is Present in Drosophila Spermatids and can serve as a model to study centriole duplication.  Genetics, 2009 Mar 16. May;182(1):133-44.
  21. Miller SW, Avidor-Reiss T, Polyanovsky A, Posakony JW.  Complex interplay of three transcription factors in controlling the tormogen differentiation program of Drosophila mechanoreceptors. Dev Biol. 2009 Feb 20.
  22. Blachon S, Gopalakrishnan J, Omori Y, Polyanovsky A, Church A, Nicastro D, Malicki J, Avidor-Reiss T. Drosophila Asterless the Ortholog of Vertebrate Cep152 is Essential for Centriole Duplication. Genetics, 2008 Dec;180(4):2081-94.
  23. Steiner D, Avidor-Reiss T, Schallmach E, Saya D, Vogel Z. Inhibition and superactivation of the calcium-stimulated isoforms of adenylyl cyclase: role of Gbg dimers. J Mol Neurosci, 2005;27:195-203.
  24. Steiner D, Avidor-Reiss T, Schallmach E, Butovsky E, Lev N, Vogel Z. Regulation of adenylate cyclase type VIII splice variants by acute and chronic Gi/o-coupled receptor activation. Biochem J, 2005;386:341-8.
  25. Avidor-Reiss T, Maer AM, Koundakjian E, Polyanovsky A, Keil T, Subramaniam S, Zuker CS. Decoding cilia function: defining specialized genes required for compartmentalized cilia biogenesis.  Cell, 2004;117:527-39.
  26. Nevo I, Avidor-Reiss T, Levy R, Bayewitch M & Vogel Z. Acute and chronic activation of the mu-opioid receptor with the endogenous ligand endomorphin differentially  regulates adenylyl cyclase  isozymes. Neuropharmacology 2000;39:364-71.
  27. Rhee MH, Nevo I, Avidor-Reiss T, Levy R, Vogel Z. Differential superactivation of adenylyl cyclase isozymes after chronic activation of the CB(1) cannabinoid receptor. Mol Pharmacol, 2000;57, 746-52.
  28. Bayewitch ML, Nevo I, Avidor-Reiss T, Levy R, Simonds WF, Vogel Z. Alterations in detergent solubility of heterotrimeric G proteins after chronic activation of G(i/o)-coupled receptors: changes in detergent solubility are in correlation with onset of adenylyl cyclase superactivation. Mol Pharmacol 2000;57:820-5.
  29. Obadiah J, Avidor-Reiss T, Fishburn CS, Carmon S, Bayewitch M, Vogel Z, Fuchs S & Levavi-Sivan. B Adenylyl cyclase interaction with the D2 dopamine receptor family; differential coupling to Gi, Gz, and Gs. Cell Mol  Neurobiol 1999;19:653-64.
  30. Bayewitch M, Avidor-Reiss T, Levy R, Pfeuffer T, Nevo I, Simonds WF & Vogel Z. Differential modulation of adenylyl cyclases I and II by various Gb subunits. J Biol Chem, 1998;273:2273‑6.
  31. Bayewitch M, Avidor-Reiss T, Levy R, Pfeuffer T, Nevo I, Simonds WF & Vogel Z. Inhibition of adenylyl cyclase isoforms V and VI by various Gbg subunits. FASEB J 1998;12:1019-1025.
  32. Nevo I, Avidor-Reiss T, Levy R, Bayewitch M, Heldman E & Vogel Z. Regulation of adenylyl cyclase isozymes upon acute and chronic activation of inhibitory receptors. Mol Pharmacol 1998;54:419-26.
  33. Rhee M-H, Bayewitch M, Avidor-Reiss T, Levy R & Vogel Z. Cannabinoid receptor activation differentially regulates the various adenylyl cyclase isozymes. J Neurochem 1998;71:1525-1534.
  34. Belcheva M M, Vogel Z, Ignatova E, Avidor-Reiss T, Zippel R, Levi R, Young EC, Barg J and Coscia CJ. Opioid modulation of ERK activity is ras dependent and involves Gbg subunits. J Neurochem 1997;70:635-45.
  35. Avidor-Reiss T, Nevo I, Saya D, Bayewitch M and Vogel Z. Opioid-induced adenylyl cyclase supersensitization is isozyme-specific. J Biol Chem 1997;272:5040-7.
  36. Bayewitch M,Rhee MH,Avidor-Reiss T, Breuer A, Mechoulam R and Vogel Z. (-)D9-Tetrahydrocannbinol antagonizes the peripheral cannabinoid receptor-mediated inhibition of adenylate cyclase. J Biol Chem 1996;271:9902-5.
  37. Avidor-Reiss T, Nevo I, Levy R, Pfeuffer T and Vogel Z. Chronic opioid treatment induces adenylyl cyclase V superactivation: involvement of Gbg. J Biol Chem 1996;271:21309-15.
  38. Avidor-Reiss T, Zippel R, Levy R, Saya D, Ezra V, Barg J, Matus-Leibovitch N and Vogel Z. k-Opioid receptor-transfected cell lines: modulation of adenylyl cyclase activity following acute and chronic opioid treatments. FEBS Lett 1995;361:70-74.
  39. Bayewitch M, Avidor-Reiss T, Levy R, Barg J, Mechoulam R and Vogel Z. The peripheral cannabinoid receptor: adenylate cyclase inhibition and G protein coupling. FEBS Lett 1995;375:143-147.
  40. Avidor-Reiss T, Bayewitch M, Levy R, Matus-Leibovitch N, Nevo I and Vogel Z. Adenylylcyclase supersensitization in µ-opioid receptor-transfected CHO cells following chronic opioid treatment. J Biol Chem 1995;270:29732-8.
  41. Matus-Leibovitch N, Ezra-Macabee V, Saya D, Attali B, Avidor-Reiss T, Barg J and Vogel Z. Increased expression of synapsin I mRNA in defined areas of the rat central nervous system following chronic morphine treatment. Mol Brain Res 1995;34:221-30.
  42. Avidor B, Avidor T, Schwartz L, De Jongh KS and Atlas D. Cardiac L-type Ca2+ channel triggers transmitter release in PC12 cells. FEBS Lett 1994;342:209-13.
  43. Avidor T, Clementi E, Schwartz L and Atlas D. Caffeine-induced transmitter release is mediated via ryanodine-sensitive channel. Neurosci Lett 1994;165:133-6.
Last Updated: 5/27/20