Sarah C.Hughes

Portrait of Sarah Hughes

Associate Professor

8-42 Medical Sciences Building
Office: 780.492.8984
Lab: 780.492.2038


Dr. Hughes is interested in the regulation of polarity, proliferation and differentiation and how dysregulation of these processes can lead to cancer.

After completing a PhD at the University of Toronto, Dr. Hughes carried out post-doctoral studies at Duke University before joining the Department of Medical Genetics at the University of Alberta.


Epithelial cell polarity and adhesion, Neural stem cells, Regulation of proliferation and differentiation, tumour suppressor proteins, cancer, post-transcriptional regulation, Neurofibromatosis Type 2, Schwannomatosis Research Interests

We study the molecular mechanisms that link polarity, proliferation and differentiation in epithelial cells and neural stem cells. We are also interested in how dysregulation of these processed can lead to tumorigenesis. Specifically, we use Drosophila melanogaster (the fruit fly) as a genetic model to study Neurofibromatosis Type 2 (NF2) and Schwannomatosis, which are inherited cancers of the brain and nervous system. The molecular mechanisms underlying these diseases are not understood. To address this question, we are using multiple approaches including molecular biology, advanced microscopy, proteomics and genetic analyses using animal and cell culture models to investigate the mechanisms of regulation underlying these disorders via identification and characterization of interacting proteins and cell signaling pathways.

Selected Publications:

Role of Nuclear-Cytoplasmic Protein Localization During Drosophila Neuroblast Development
Sophie E Keegan , Sarah C Hughes Genome 2020 Jun 11. doi: 10.1139/gen-2020-0039. Online ahead of print.

Drosophila mRNA Localization During Later Development: Past, Present, and Future.
Hughes SC, Simmonds AJ. Front Genet. 2019 Mar 7;10:135. doi: 10.3389/fgene.2019.00135. eCollection 2019.PMID: 30899273

Moesin is involved in polarity maintenance and cortical remodelling during asymmetric cell division.
Namal Abeysundara, Andrew J. Simmonds, and Sarah C. Hughes. 2017.
Mol. Biol. Cell mbc.E17-05-0294; First Published on December 27, 2017; doi:10.1091/mbc.E17-05-0294

Loss of the Drosophila melanogaster RNA binding protein Ddx1 leads to reduced size and aberrant gametogenesis.
Devon R Germain, Lei Li, Matthew R Hildebrandt, Andrew J. Simmonds, Sarah C. Hughes, and Roseline Godbout. (2015). Developmental Biology 407(2): 232-45.

Interaction with the effector Dynamin-Related Protein 1 (Drp1) is an ancient function of Rab32 subfamily proteins.
Carolina Ortiz Sandoval, Sarah Hughes, Joel Dacks, Thomas Simmen. (2014).
Cellular Logistics. 4(4): e986399-7.

Regulation of cell proliferation and adhesion by means of a novel region of drosophila merlin interacting with Sip1.
Abeysundara N, Leung AC, Primrose DA, Hughes SC.
Dev Dyn. 2014 Dec;243(12):1554-70. Epub 2014 Oct 1.

The Smc5/Smc6/MAGE complex confers resistance to caffeine and genotoxic stress in Drosophila melanogaster.
Li X, Zhuo R, Tiong S, Di Cara F, King-Jones K, Hughes SC, Campbell SD, Wevrick R.
PLoS One. 2013;(8)3:e59866. Epub 2013 Mar 28.

There are a limited number of positions for graduate and undergraduate students in the lab working on projects addressing the role of proteins in early brain development and analysis of post transcriptional and post translation regulation of identified proteins of interest.

Interested students should contact Dr. Hughes and provide a CV and list of names of two references

Kyle Kohls-Wiebe - Animal Technician
Julie Haskins - Technician
Sophie Keegan - Graduate Student

Namal Abeysundara - PhD 2017
Kirsten Arnold - MSc 2016
Sophia Yip - MSc 2014
Albert Leung - MSc 2011