Centre for Biological Signalling Studies

Dr. Giorgos Pyrowolakis

Dr. Giorgos Pyrowolakis

Institute of Biology I - Developmental Biology
University of Freiburg

+49 761 203 8459


The regulation of organ patterning and growth by gradients of signaling activity (morphogen signaling) is a key concept in animal development. We use Drosophila melanogaster as a model organism to address basic questions in the regulation of long-range morphogen signaling. We are particularly interested in morphogen signaling elicited by Drosophila BMPs and use a combination of approaches to understand how gradients of signaling activity are established and maintained and how cells within the morphogen-field sense and interpret graded signaling. Main recent achievements include the identification of cis-regulatory motifs that differentially respond to graded signaling, the identification of novel regulators of morphogen trafficking and the finding that establishment and interpretation of signaling gradients are tightly coupled processes. In addition, we are interested in how the activity of BMP signaling gradients is coordinated with the activity of other signaling cues to orchestrate epithelial patterning.


10 selected publications

  • Pentagone fine-tunes glypicans to regulate multiple signaling pathways.
    Norman M., Vuilleumier R. Springhorn A., and Pyrowolakis G. (2016)
    Elife, pii: e13301.
  • BMP-dependent gene repression cascade in Drosophila eggshell patterning.
    Charbonnier E., Fuchs A., Cheung LS., Chayengia M., Shvartsman SY. and Pyrowolakis G. (2015)
    Dev Biol, 400, 258-265.
  • The decapentaplegic/TGF-dependent corepressor Schnurri protects epithelial cells from JNK-induced apoptosis in Drosophila embryos.
    Beira JV., Springhorn A., Pyrowolakis G. and Vincent JP. (2014)
    Dev Cell, 31(2) 240-47.
  • BMPs regulate expression of msx genes in the dorsal neuroectoderm of Drosophila and vertebrates by distinct mechanisms.
    Esteves FF., Springhorn A., Kague E., Taylor E., Pyrowolakis G., Fisher S, and Bier E. (2014)
    PLOS Genet, 10 (9), e1004625.
  • Transcriptional Interpretation of the EGFR signaling gradient.
    Fuchs A., Cheung LS., Charbonnier E., Shvartsman SY.* and Pyrowolakis G.* (2012).
    Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, 109, 1572-77.
    *shared senior authorship
  • Expansion-Repression Mechanism for Scaling the Dpp Activation Gradient in Drosophila Wing Imaginal Discs.
    Ben-Zvi D, Pyrowolakis G, Barkai N, Shilo BZ (2011).
    Curr Biol 21, 1391-96.
  • Control of Dpp morphogen distribution by a secreted feedback regulator.
    Vuilleumier R., Springhorn A., Patterson L., Koidl S., Hammerschmidt M., Affolter M., and Pyrowolakis G. (2010)
    Nat Cell Biol, 12, 611-617.
  • A conserved activation element in BMP signaling during Drosophila development.
    Weiss A., Charbonnier E., Ellertsdóttir E., Wolf C., Schuh R., Pyrowolakis G.* and Affolter M.* (2010)
    Nat Struct Mol Biol, 19, 69-76.
    *shared senior authorship
  • A simple molecular complex mediates widespread BMP-induced repression during Drosophila development.
    Pyrowolakis G., Hartmann B., Muller B., Basler K., and Affolter, M. (2004).
    Dev Cell, 7, 229-240.
  • Conversion of an extracellular Dpp/BMP morphogen gradient into an inverse transcriptional gradient.
    Müller, B.*, Hartmann, B.*, Pyrowolakis, G.*, Affolter, M., and Basler K. (2003)
    Cell, 113, 221-33.
    *equal contribution