Professor Paul Lasko

Using Drosophila melanogaster to understand causes of human genetic disease
September 2019 - August 2020

Foto Paul LaskoWho is Paul Lasko?

Prof. Paul Lasko works at the Department of Biology of McGill University in Montreal (Canada). His main research field is using Drosophila ('fruit flies') to study fundamental genetic regulatory mechanisms that operate at the RNA level (including translational control) and that underlie developmental events. He also explores using Drosophila as a model for human genetic diseases.

Lasko studied at Harvard College and MIT, where he obtained his PhD in Biology. Since 1990 he held positions at McGill University as an Associate Professor, Professor, and Department Chair and from 2010-18 he was Scientific Director of the CIHR Institute of Genetics. At the moment he holds the James McGill Professorship and Molson Chair of Genetics. During his career he published over 130 journal articles, with over 16,400 citations.

Lasko photo

Confocal laser scanning microscope image of a portion of a Drosophila ovary, immunostained for Ketel (green), a component of nuclear membranes, and Vasa (red), an RNA binding protein expressed in germ line cells.

During his Radboud Excellence professorship

Prof. Lasko was nominated for his Radboud Excellence professorship by prof. dr. Han G. Brunner of Radboudumc's Department of Human Genetics. During his stay as a Visiting Professor, prof. Lasko used his expertise in model organism developmental genetics, and his experience in large international research initiatives in rare diseases and other areas. He collaborated with prof. Han Brunner and dr. Servi Stevens (Maastricht) on a joint project to identify causative mutations for VACTERL syndrome, a severe human developmental disorder.

With dr. Annette Schenck he is developing plans and ideas for functional studies in Drosophila of genetic variants uncovered in the Radboud intellectual disability and fertility clinics. This has led to the discovery of a link between the human gene FKBP6 and male infertility.

With his expertise and leading role in planning rare disease research he is helping Radboudumc set up and administer a 'models and mechanisms network' for rare diseases, as part of the European H2020 SolveRD project.

  • 29 November 2019: Theme discussion presentation, Department of Human Genetics, “Insights into human diseases from fruit flies”
  • 16 December 2019: Radboud Excellence Program lunch talk, “Exploring the causes of genetic diseases”
  • 8 February 2020: Presentation at 8th International Conference on Rare Diseases, held at Radboud University, “Rare Diseases Models and Mechanisms Networks”. Lasko co-organized the conference with Wendy van Zelst-Stams, which attracted around 150 participants.

Publications resulting from Lasko's Radboud Excellence professorship

  • Lasko, P. (2020) Patterning the Drosophila embryo: A paradigm for RNA‐based developmental genetic regulation. Wiley Interdiscip Rev RNA 2020 Jun 15: e1610.
  • Taruscio, D., Baynam, G., Cederroth, H., Groft, S.C., Klee, E.W., Kosaki, K., Lasko, P., Melegh, B., Riess, O., Salvatore, M., Gahl, W.A. (2020) The Undiagnosed Diseases Network International: Five years and more! Molecular Genetics and Metabolism 129, 243-254.
  • Dold, A., Han, H., Liu, N., Hildebrandt, A., Brüggemann, M., Rücklé C., ... Lasko, P. (2020) Makorin 1 controls embryonic patterning by alleviating Bruno1-mediated repression of oskar translation. PLoS Genet 16(1): e1008581.
  • Kashkooli, L., Rozema, D., Espejo-Ramirez, L., Lasko, P., and Fagotto, F. (2020, in revision) Ectoderm to mesoderm transition by downregulation of actomyosin contractility.
  • Chaouch, A., Berlandi, J., Frey, F., Chen, C.C.L., Badini, S., Marchione, D., Garcia, B., Harutyunyan, A., Krug, B., Chen, H., Majewski, J., Hébert, S., Jeibmann, A., Kleinman, C. L., Hasselblatt, M., Lasko, P., Shirinian, M., and Jabado, N. (2020, in revision) Histone 3.3 K27M and K36M mutations promote redistribution of antagonistic chromatin marks, disrupted development, and tumorigenesis.
  • Stevens, S.J.C., Stumpel, C.T.R.M., Diderich, K., Abbott, M.-A., Manning, C., Pyle, L.C., Leonard, J., Murrell, J. R., Balciuniene, J., Lasko, P., and Brunner, H. (2020, to be submitted) The broader phenotypic spectrum of congenital caudal abnormalities associated with mutations in the Caudal Type Homeobox 2 gene. This paper resulted directly from his Radboud Excellence professorship.
  • Lüthy, K. and Lasko, P. (2020, to be submitted) Investigating rare and ultrarare epilepsy syndromes with Drosophila models. Invited review. This paper, written together with Radboud Excellence fellow Kevin Lüthy, resulted directly from his Radboud Excellence professorship.

If you want to know more

Visit Paul Lasko's personal page at McGill University.