Photo of David S. Pellman,  MD

David S. Pellman, MD

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Phone: (617) 632-4918
Fax: (617) 632-6845

David S. Pellman, MD

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute


  • Margaret M. Dyson Professor of Pediatric Oncology, Pediatrics, Harvard Medical School
  • Professor, Cell Biology, Harvard Medical School
  • Principal Investigator, Pediatric Oncology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute



  • Member, Center Scientific Council

Research Abstract

Our laboratory is interested in how cell cycle signals regulate chromosome segregation and polarized morphogenesis. Our experimental approaches include a combination of biochemical, genetic and live-cell imaging. There are ongoing projects using both yeast and animal cell systems.

One area of interest for the laboratory is the mechanism of anaphase B. Many of the proteins involved in anaphase have been identified through genetic screens. One conserved component of the central spindle identified in our laboratory has been purified and its in vitro properties are being characterized. The goal of this work is to understand how the half spindles are held together and how the spindle is disassembled at the end of mitosis. A related project concerns the regulation of spindle function by the cyclin degradation machinery (anaphase promoting complex or APC). Several spindle proteins are degraded through the APC at different times during the cell cycle. We are working on the mechanisms regulating the timing of these degradation events.

A second area of interest is how polarity factors determine the position of the spindle within the cell. Spindle position is regulated during the development of many organisms in order to generate asymmetric cell divisions. Establishing spindle position involves capture of astral microtubules by poorly defined cortical proteins. Through genetic screens we have identified cortical cytoskeletal proteins and G-protein regulators necessary for determining spindle position. We hope to develop a mechanistic understanding of this process by studying the biochemical interactions between these proteins. In addition, a recently described cell cycle checkpoint monitors the successful positioning of the spindle in yeast. Work is in progress to define how the cell recognizes abnormal spindle position and communicates this information to cell cycle regulators.


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  • Zhang CZ, Spektor A, Cornils H, Francis JM, Jackson EK, Liu S, Meyerson M, Pellman D. Chromothripsis from DNA damage in micronuclei. Nature 2015; 522:179-84. PubMed
  • Selmecki AM, Maruvka YE, Richmond PA, Guillet M, Shoresh N, Sorenson AL, De S, Kishony R, Michor F, Dowell R, Pellman D. Polyploidy can drive rapid adaptation in yeast. Nature 2015; 519:349-52. PubMed
  • Varetti G, Pellman D, Gordon DJ. Aurea Mediocritas: The Importance of a Balanced Genome. Cold Spring Harb Perspect Biol 2014. PubMed
  • Ganem NJ, Cornils H, Chiu SY, O'Rourke KP, Arnaud J, Yimlamai D, Théry M, Camargo FD, Pellman D. Cytokinesis failure triggers hippo tumor suppressor pathway activation. Cell 2014; 158:833-48. PubMed
  • Godinho SA, Picone R, Burute M, Dagher R, Su Y, Leung CT, Polyak K, Brugge JS, Théry M, Pellman D. Oncogene-like induction of cellular invasion from centrosome amplification. Nature 2014. PubMed
  • Lane AA, Chapuy B, Lin CY, Tivey T, Li H, Townsend EC, van Bodegom D, Day TA, Wu SC, Liu H, Yoda A, Alexe G, Schinzel AC, Sullivan TJ, Malinge S, Taylor JE, Stegmaier K, Jaffe JD, Bustin M, te Kronnie G, Izraeli S, Harris MH, Stevenson KE, Neuberg D, Silverman LB, Sallan SE, Bradner JE, Hahn WC, Crispino JD, Pellman D, Weinstock DM. Triplication of a 21q22 region contributes to B cell transformation through HMGN1 overexpression and loss of histone H3 Lys27 trimethylation. Nat Genet 2014. PubMed
  • Lee DH, Acharya SS, Kwon M, Drane P, Guan Y, Adelmant G, Kalev P, Shah J, Pellman D, Marto JA, Chowdhury D. Dephosphorylation enables the recruitment of 53BP1 to double-strand DNA breaks. Mol Cell 2014. PubMed
  • Su X, Arellano-Santoyo H, Portran D, Gaillard J, Vantard M, Thery M, Pellman D. Microtubule-sliding activity of a kinesin-8 promotes spindle assembly and spindle-length control. Nat Cell Biol 2013; 15:948-57. PubMed
  • Atkins BD, Yoshida S, Saito K, Wu CF, Lew DJ, Pellman D. Inhibition of Cdc42 during mitotic exit is required for cytokinesis. J Cell Biol 2013; 202:231-40. PubMed
  • Su X, Ohi R, Pellman D. Move in for the kill: motile microtubule regulators. Trends Cell Biol 2012; 22:567-75. PubMed
  • Buttery SM, Kono K, Stokasimov E, Pellman D. Regulation of the formin Bnr1 by septins anda MARK/Par1-family septin-associated kinase. Mol Biol Cell 2012; 23:4041-53. PubMed
  • Kono K, Saeki Y, Yoshida S, Tanaka K, Pellman D. Proteasomal degradation resolves competition between cell polarization and cellular wound healing. Cell 2012; 150:151-64. PubMed
  • Varetti G, Pellman D. "Two" much of a good thing: telomere damage-induced genome doubling drives tumorigenesis. Cancer Cell 2012; 21:712-4. PubMed
  • Carter SL, Cibulskis K, Helman E, McKenna A, Shen H, Zack T, Laird PW, Onofrio RC, Winckler W, Weir BA, Beroukhim R, Pellman D, Levine DA, Lander ES, Meyerson M, Getz G. Absolute quantification of somatic DNA alterations in human cancer. Nat Biotechnol 2012; 30:413-21. PubMed
  • Storchová Z, Becker J, Talarek N, Kögelsberger S, Pellman D. Bub1, Sgo1 and Mps1 mediate a distinct pathway for chromosome bi-orientation in budding yeast. Mol Biol Cell 2011. PubMed
  • Meyerson M, Pellman D. Cancer genomes evolve by pulverizing single chromosomes. Cell 2011; 144:9-10. PubMed
  • Breuer M, Kolano A, Kwon M, Li CC, Tsai TF, Pellman D, Brunet S, Verlhac MH. HURP permits MTOC sorting for robust meiotic spindle bipolarity, similar to extra centrosome clustering in cancer cells. J Cell Biol 2010; 191:1251-60. PubMed
  • Vinciguerra P, Godinho SA, Parmar K, Pellman D, D'Andrea AD. Cytokinesis failure occurs in Fanconi anemia pathway-deficient murine and human bone marrow hematopoietic cells. J Clin Invest 2010; 120:3834-42. PubMed
  • Pellman D. David Pellman: Grasping the geometry of cancer. [Interviewed by Caitlin Sedwick]. J Cell Biol 2010; 190:4-5. PubMed
  • Kwiatkowski N, Jelluma N, Filippakopoulos P, Soundararajan M, Manak MS, Kwon M, Choi HG, Sim T, Deveraux QL, Rottmann S, Pellman D, Shah JV, Kops GJ, Knapp S, Gray NS. Small-molecule kinase inhibitors provide insight into Mps1 cell cycle function. Nat Chem Biol 2010; 6:359-68. PubMed
  • Tischfield MA, Baris HN, Wu C, Rudolph G, Van Maldergem L, He W, Chan WM, Andrews C, Demer JL, Robertson RL, Mackey DA, Ruddle JB, Bird TD, Gottlob I, Pieh C, Traboulsi EI, Pomeroy SL, Hunter DG, Soul JS, Newlin A, Sabol LJ, Doherty EJ, de Uzcátegui CE, de Uzcátegui N, Collins ML, Sener EC, Wabbels B, Hellebrand H, Meitinger T, de Berardinis T, Magli A, Schiavi C, Pastore-Trossello M, Koc F, Wong AM, Levin AV, Geraghty MT, Descartes M, Flaherty M, Jamieson RV, Møller HU, Meuthen I, Callen DF, Kerwin J, Lindsay S, Meindl A, Gupta ML, Pellman D, Engle EC. Human TUBB3 mutations perturb microtubule dynamics, kinesin interactions, and axon guidance. Cell 2010; 140:74-87. PubMed
  • Rhodes J, Amsterdam A, Sanda T, Moreau LA, McKenna K, Heinrichs S, Ganem NJ, Ho KW, Neuberg DS, Johnston A, Ahn Y, Kutok JL, Hromas R, Wray J, Lee C, Murphy C, Radtke I, Downing JR, Fleming MD, MacConaill LE, Amatruda JF, Gutierrez A, Galinsky I, Stone RM, Ross EA, Pellman DS, Kanki JP, Look AT. Emi1 maintains genomic integrity during zebrafish embryogenesis and cooperates with p53 in tumor suppression. Mol Cell Biol 2009; 29:5911-22. PubMed
  • Yoshida S, Bartolini S, Pellman D. Mechanisms for concentrating Rho1 during cytokinesis. Genes Dev 2009; 23:810-23. PubMed
  • Chandhok NS, Pellman D. A little CIN may cost a lot: revisiting aneuploidy and cancer. Curr Opin Genet Dev 2009; 19:74-81. PubMed
  • Atkins BD, Yoshida S, Pellman D. Symmetry breaking: scaffold plays matchmaker for polarity signaling proteins. Curr Biol 2008; 18:R1130-2. PubMed
  • Kwon M, Godinho SA, Chandhok NS, Ganem NJ, Azioune A, Thery M, Pellman D. Mechanisms to suppress multipolar divisions in cancer cells with extra centrosomes. Genes Dev 2008; 22:2189-203. PubMed
  • Austin KM, Gupta ML, Coats SA, Tulpule A, Mostoslavsky G, Balazs AB, Mulligan RC, Daley G, Pellman D, Shimamura A. Mitotic spindle destabilization and genomic instability in Shwachman-Diamond syndrome. J Clin Invest 2008; 118:1511-8. PubMed
  • Kono K, Nogami S, Abe M, Nishizawa M, Morishita S, Pellman D, Ohya Y. G1/S Cyclin-Dependent Kinase Regulates Small GTPase Rho1p through Phosphorylation of RhoGEF Tus1p in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Mol Biol Cell 2008; 19:1763-71. PubMed
  • Yoshida S, Pellman D. Plugging the GAP between cell polarity and cell cycle. EMBO Rep 2008; 9:39-41. PubMed
  • Sch. Forkhead transcription factor FoxM1 regulates mitotic entry and prevents spindle defects in cerebellar granule neuron precursors. Mol Cell Biol 2007; 27:8259-70. PubMed
  • Ganem NJ, Pellman D. Limiting the proliferation of polyploid cells. Cell 2007; 131:437-40. PubMed
  • Ceol CJ, Pellman D, Zon LI. APC and colon cancer: two hits for one. Nat Med 2007; 13:1286-7. PubMed
  • Jallepalli PV, Pellman D. Cell biology. Aneuploidy in the balance. Science 2007; 317:904-5. PubMed
  • Buttery SM, Yoshida S, Pellman D. Yeast formins Bni1 and Bnr1 utilize different modes of cortical interaction during the assembly of actin cables. Mol Biol Cell 2007; 18:1826-38. PubMed
  • Ganem NJ, Storchova Z, Pellman D. Tetraploidy, aneuploidy and cancer. Curr Opin Genet Dev 2007; 17:157-62. PubMed
  • Pellman D. Cell biology: aneuploidy and cancer. Nature 2007; 446:38-9. PubMed
  • Storchov. Genome-wide genetic analysis of polyploidy in yeast. Nature 2006; 443:541-7. PubMed
  • Gupta ML, Carvalho P, Roof DM, Pellman D. Plus end-specific depolymerase activity of Kip3, a kinesin-8 protein, explains its role in positioning the yeast mitotic spindle. Nat Cell Biol 2006; 8:913-23. PubMed
  • Yoshida S, Kono K, Lowery DM, Bartolini S, Yaffe MB, Ohya Y, Pellman D. Polo-like kinase Cdc5 controls the local activation of Rho1 to promote cytokinesis. Science 2006; 313:108-11. PubMed
  • Kwon M, Godinho SA, Chandhok NS, Ganem NJ, Azioune A, Thery M, Pellman D. Mechanisms to suppress multipolar divisions in cancer cells with extra centrosomes. Genes Dev 2008.