Karen G. Hales

Professor of Biology
Davidson College

Office: Wall 321
Lab: Wall 323
Mailing address:
Box 7118, Davidson NC 28035
Shipping address:
209 Ridge Rd, Davidson NC 28035


BIO111  Molecules, Genes, and Cells
BIO201  Genetics
BIO352  Group Investigation: Genetics of Mitochondrial Shaping
BIO363  Human Genetics Seminar
BIO371-374 & 379  Independent Research


We perform genetic analysis with the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster to explore molecular mechanisms by which mitochondria are moved and shaped in cells. Mitochondria are the organelles often referred to as the "powerhouses of the cell," since they are the sites where energy from food is stored in ATP. In many cell types with unusual energy needs, mitochondria move in a regulated way to be close to energy-requiring structures such as flagella or ion pumps. In addition, mitochondria often undergo regulated fusion and division, sometimes existing as a single large network in the cell, and sometimes as many individual units. In Drosophila melanogaster (as in most other higher organisms), mitochondria undergo a dramatic series of shape changes during spermatogenesis. Through the analysis of male-sterile mutants defective in mitochondrial morphogenesis, we isolate and characterize genes whose protein products function in this process.

Selected publications (* indicates undergraduate coauthor)

Hales, K. G. 2020. Signaling inclusivity in undergraduate biology courses through deliberate framing of genetics topics relevant to gender identity, disability, and race. CBE—Life Sciences Education 19(2): https://doi.org/10.1187/cbe.19-08-0156.

D.E. Miller, K.R. Cook, E.A. Hemenway, *V. Fang, A.L. Miller, K.G. Hales, and R.S. Hawley. 2018. The molecular and genetic characterization of second chromosome balancers in Drosophila melanogaster. G3:Genes|Genomes|Genetics 8: 1161-1171; https://doi.org/10.1534/g3.118.200021.

*Sawyer, E.M., *E.C. Brunner, *Y. Hwang, *L.E. Ivey, *O. Brown, *M. Bannon, *D. Akrobetu, *K.E. Sheaffer, *O. Morgan, *C.O. Field, *N. Suresh, *M.G. Gordon, *E.T. Gunnell,, L.A. Regruto, C.G. Wood, M.T. Fuller, and K.G. Hales. 2017. Testis-specific ATP synthase peripheral stalk subunits required for tissue-specific mitochondrial morphogenesis in Drosophila. BMC Cell Biology 18:16; https://doi.org/10.1186/s12860-017-0132-1.

Hales, K.G., C. A. Korey, A.M. Larracuente, and D.M. Roberts. 2015. Genetics on the fly: a primer on the Drosophila model system. Genetics 201: 815-842; https://doi.org/10.1534/genetics.115.183392.

Hales, K.G. 2013. Denying genetic causality. Review of Genetic Explanations: Sense and Nonsense, edited by Krimsky and Gruber. CBE Life Sciences Education 12: 604-605; https://doi.org/10.1187/cbe.13-09-0187.

*Bergner, L.M., *F. E. Hickman, *K. H. Wood, *C. M. Wakeman, *H. H. Stone, *T. J. Campbell, S. B. Lightcap, S. M. Favors, A. C. Aldridge, and K. G. Hales. 2010. A novel predicted bromodomain-related protein affects coordination between meiosis and spermiogenesis in Drosophila and is required for male meiotic cytokinesis. DNA and Cell Biology 29: 487-498; https://doi.org/10.1089/dna.2009.0989.

Hales, K.G. 2010. Mitochondrial fusion and division. Nature Education 3(9): 12.

Hales, K.G. 2010. Iron testes: sperm mitochondria as a context for dissecting iron metabolism. BMC Biology 8: 79.

Anderson, M.A., J.N. Jodoin, E. Lee, K.G. Hales, T.S. Hays, and L.A. Lee. 2009. asunder coordinates spermatogenesis in Drosophila by regulating dynein-dynactin localization. Mol. Biol. Cell 20: 2709-2721; https://doi.org/10.1091/mbc.e08-12-1165 .

Silverman-Gavrila, R.V., K.G. Hales, and A. Wilde. 2008. Anillin-mediated targeting of Peanut to pseudocleavage furrows is regulated by the GTPase Ran. Mol. Biol. Cell. 19: 3735-3744; https://doi.org/10.1091/mbc.e08-01-0049.

Aldridge, A.C., *L.P. Benson, *M.M. Siegenthaler, *B.T. Whigham, R. S. Stowers, and K.G. Hales. 2007. Roles for Drp1, a dynamin-related protein, and Milton, a kinesin-associated protein, in mitochondrial segregation, unfurling, and elongation during Drosophila spermatogenesis. FLY 1: 38-46; https://doi.org/10.4161/fly.3913.

Beckstead, R.B., S.S. Ner, K.G. Hales, T.A. Grigliatti, B.S. Baker, and H.J. Bellen. 2005. Bonus, a TIF1 homologue, interacts with heterochromatin and is an enhancer and suppressor of position effect variegation. Genetics 169: 783-794; https://doi.org/10.1534/genetics.104.037085.

Hales, K.G. 2004. The machinery of mitochondrial fusion, division, and distribution, and emerging connections to apoptosis. Mitochondrion 4: 285-308; https://doi.org/10.1016/j.mito.2004.05.007.

Hales, K.G. 2003. Review of Decoding Darkness: In Search of the Genetic Causes of Alzheimer's Disease by Rudolph E. Tanzi and Ann B. Parson. Journal of Undergraduate Neuroscience Education 1(2): R12-R13.

Shih, H.-P., K.G. Hales, J.R. Pringle, and M. Peifer. 2002. Identification of septin-interacting proteins and characterization of the Smt3/SUMO-conjugation system in Drosophila. J. Cell Sci 115: 1259-1271.

Hales, K.G., E. Bi, J.-Q. Wu, J.C. Adam, I.-C. Yu, and J.R. Pringle. 1999. Cytokinesis: an emerging unified theory for eukaryotes? Curr. Opin. Cell Biol. 11: 717-725; https://doi.org/10.1016/S0955-0674(99)00042-3.

Hermann, G.J., J. Thatcher, J. P. Mills, K.G. Hales, M. T. Fuller, J. Nunnari, and J. M. Shaw. 1998. Mitochondrial fusion in yeast requires the transmembrane GTPase Fzo1p. J. Cell Biol. 143: 359-373; https://doi.org/10.1083/jcb.143.2.359.

Molina, I., S. Baars, J. A. Brill, K. G. Hales, M.T. Fuller, and P. Ripoll. 1997. A chromatin-associated kinesin-related protein required for normal mitotic chromosome segregation in Drosophila. J. Cell Biol. 139: 1361-1371; https://doi.org/10.1083/jcb.139.6.1361.

Hales, K.G. and M.T. Fuller. 1997. Developmentally regulated mitochondrial fusion mediated by a conserved novel predicted GTPase. Cell 90: 121-129; https://doi.org/10.1016/S0092-8674(00)80319-0.