Kim McCall
Boston University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

PhD, Harvard University
BS, State University of New York, New Paltz

Cell death plays a central role in development and in many diseases. The research in my laboratory is focused on understanding the molecular mechanisms of programmed cell death and cell clearance. The model that we are using is the fruitfly Drosophila melanogaster, an organism with unique advantages in genetics and cell biology. A major interest of the lab is germline cell death, which can occur at several distinct stages in the fly ovary. The death of nurse cells in late oogenesis is developmentally programmed and occurs rapidly and synchronously in clusters as each oocyte develops. Germline cell death can also occur in response to starvation or other insults. While apoptosis is the major form of cell death occurring in response to starvation, a novel non-apoptotic type of cell death occurs during developmental nurse cell death.

The final step in programmed cell death is the removal of the corpse. Defective dead cell clearance is associated with auto-immune and neurodegenerative diseases in humans. In the fly ovary, “professional” phagocytes like macrophages are limited, and most of the cell clearance is carried out by epithelial follicle cells. Follicle cells synchronously engulf dying nurse cells, providing a powerful in vivo model system for investigating the genetics and cell biology of engulfment. We are also investigating cell clearance mechanisms by glia in the brain.

We are currently using genetic and molecular approaches to identify components of the cell death and cell clearance pathways in the ovary and the brain. Given the high degree of evolutionary conservation of known cell death mechanisms, we expect that pathways that we uncover in Drosophila will be conserved in humans.

The coordination of cell death and corpse clearance in Drosophila
01/01/2024 - 11/30/2028 (PI)
NIH/National Institute of General Medical Sciences

The Coordination of Cell Death and Corpse Clearance
01/01/2018 - 12/31/2023 (PI)
NIH/National Institute of General Medical Sciences

Role of phagocytosis in neurodegeneration
01/01/2018 - 02/28/2021 (PI)
NIH/National Institute on Aging

Title of Project: Investigation of non-autonomous cell death and corpse clearance
03/15/2016 - 11/30/2018 (Key Person)
NIH/National Institute of General Medical Sciences

04/01/2016 - 03/31/2018 (PI)
NIH/National Institute of General Medical Sciences

08/15/2013 - 03/31/2016 (PI)
NIH/National Institute of General Medical Sciences

Mechanisms of cell corpse clearance
05/01/2011 - 02/29/2016 (PI)
NIH/National Institute of General Medical Sciences

Elucidating the effectors of cell clearance in immunoprivileged organs
09/01/2011 - 08/31/2014 (PI)
NIH/National Institute of General Medical Sciences


Yr Title Project-Sub Proj Pubs
2024 The coordination of cell death and corpse clearance in Drosophila 2R35GM127338-06
2022 The coordination of cell death and corpse clearance 5R35GM127338-05
2021 The coordination of cell death and corpse clearance 5R35GM127338-04 1
2020 The coordination of cell death and corpse clearance 5R35GM127338-03 1
2019 The coordination of cell death and corpse clearance 5R35GM127338-02 1
2019 Role of phagocytosis in neurodegeneration 5R21AG056158-02
2018 The coordination of cell death and corpse clearance 1R35GM127338-01 1
2018 Role of phagocytosis in neurodegeneration 1R21AG056158-01A1
2016 Programmed Cell Death in Drosophila Development 4R01GM060574-13 33
2015 Programmed Cell Death in Drosophila Development 5R01GM060574-12 33
Showing 10 of 30 results. Show All Results

Publications listed below are automatically derived from MEDLINE/PubMed and other sources, which might result in incorrect or missing publications. Faculty can login to make corrections and additions.

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  1. Elguero JE, Liu G, Tiemeyer K, Bandyadka S, Gandevia H, Duro L, Yan Z, McCall K. Defective phagocytosis leads to neurodegeneration through systemic increased innate immune signaling. iScience. 2023 Oct 20; 26(10):108052. PMID: 37854687; PMCID: PMC10579427; DOI: 10.1016/j.isci.2023.108052;
  2. Dixon C, McCall K. Characterization of female reproductive disturbances post-traumatic injury in Drosophila melanogaster. MicroPubl Biol. 2023; 2023. PMID: 37799197; PMCID: PMC10550377; DOI: 10.17912/micropub.biology.000883;
  3. Serizier SB, Peterson JS, McCall K. Non-autonomous cell death induced by the Draper phagocytosis receptor requires signaling through the JNK and SRC pathways. J Cell Sci. 2022 Oct 15; 135(20). PMID: 36177600; PMCID: PMC10658789; DOI: 10.1242/jcs.250134;
  4. Lebo DPV, McCall K. Murder on the Ovarian Express: A Tale of Non-Autonomous Cell Death in the Drosophila Ovary. Cells. 2021 Jun 10; 10(6). PMID: 34200604; PMCID: PMC8228772; DOI: 10.3390/cells10061454;
  5. Lebo DPV, Chirn A, Taylor JD, Levan A, Doerre Torres V, Agreda E, Serizier SB, Lord AK, Jenkins VK, McCall K. An RNAi screen of the kinome in epithelial follicle cells of the Drosophila melanogaster ovary reveals genes required for proper germline death and clearance. G3 (Bethesda). 2021 Feb 09; 11(2). PMID: 33693600; PMCID: PMC8022946; DOI: 10.1093/g3journal/jkaa066;
  6. Yalonetskaya A, Mondragon AA, Hintze ZJ, Holmes S, McCall K. Nuclear degradation dynamics in a nonapoptotic programmed cell death. Cell Death Differ. 2020 Feb; 27(2):711-724. PMID: 31285547; PMCID: PMC7206136; DOI: 10.1038/s41418-019-0382-x;
  7. Mondragon AA, Yalonetskaya A, Ortega AJ, Zhang Y, Naranjo O, Elguero J, Chung WS, McCall K. Lysosomal Machinery Drives Extracellular Acidification to Direct Non-apoptotic Cell Death. Cell Rep. 2019 Apr 02; 27(1):11-19.e3. PMID: 30943394; PMCID: PMC6613820; DOI: 10.1016/j.celrep.2019.03.034;
  8. Yalonetskaya A, Mondragon AA, Elguero J, McCall K. I Spy in the Developing Fly a Multitude of Ways to Die. J Dev Biol. 2018 Oct 22; 6(4). PMID: 30360387; PMCID: PMC6316796; DOI: 10.3390/jdb6040026;
  9. Santoso CS, Meehan TL, Peterson JS, Cedano TM, Turlo CV, McCall K. The ABC Transporter Eato Promotes Cell Clearance in the Drosophila melanogaster Ovary. G3 (Bethesda). 2018 Mar 02; 8(3):833-843. PMID: 29295819; PMCID: PMC5844305; DOI: 10.1534/g3.117.300427;
  10. Serizier SB, McCall K. Scrambled Eggs: Apoptotic Cell Clearance by Non-Professional Phagocytes in the Drosophila Ovary. Front Immunol. 2017; 8:1642. PMID: 29238344; PMCID: PMC5712531; DOI: 10.3389/fimmu.2017.01642;
Showing 10 of 56 results. Show More

This graph shows the total number of publications by year, by first, middle/unknown, or last author.

Bar chart showing 56 publications over 26 distinct years, with a maximum of 5 publications in 2013 and 2016


2020 Boston University: BU GWISE Mentor of the Year Award
2019 Boston University: BU GWISE Founders Award
2017-2020 New England Representative of the Drosophila Board (elected)
2016 Bryn Mawr College, PA: Selected Attendee, HERS Institute
2014-2018 Member, NIH Cellular Mechanisms in Aging and Development study section
2007 Boston University: College Prize for Excellence in Student Advising
2002-2006 Member, American Cancer Society Cell Cycle and Growth Control Peer Review Committee
2000-2002 March of Dimes: Basil O’Connor Starter Scholar Award
Contact for Mentoring:

24 Cummington St
Boston MA 02215
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