Dr. Tucker’s laboratory studies cell-cell and cell-extracellular matrix interactions, especially how they relate to cell motility and differentiation. He also studies the evolution of extracellular matrix and cell-cell adhesion molecules. Model systems used include the development of the avian visual system, tumor metastasis, stem cell niches and growth and regeneration in the marine invertebrate Nematostella. Most of his work focuses on the roles of tenascins, thrombospondins and teneurins. Tenascins and thrombospondins are extracellular matrix glycoproteins that can influence cell motility, proliferation and differentiation in the embryo. They often reappear in tumors and at sites of trauma. Teneurins are transmembrane glycoproteins expressed by interconnected populations of neurons. Recent evidence suggests that teneurins evolved via horizontal gene transfer between a choanoflagellate and prokaryotic prey.
2012 Chiquet-Ehrismann, R. and R.P. Tucker. Tenascins and the importance of adhesion modulation. In: Cold Spring Harbor Perspective in Biology: Extracellular Matrix Biology, R.O. Hynes and K. Yamada (eds.), Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press, Cold Spring Harbor, NY. pp. 129-147.
2012 Brellier, F., E. Martina, M. Chiquet, J. Ferralli, M. van der Heyden, G. Orend, J.C. Schittny, R. Chiquet-Ehrismann and R.P. Tucker. The adhesion modulating properties of tenascin-W. International Journal of Biological Sciences 8:187-194.
2012 Tucker, R.P., J. Beckmann, N.T. Leachman, J. Schöler and R. Chiquet-Ehrismann. Phylogenetic analysis of the teneurins: conserved features and premetazoan ancestry. Molecular Biology and Evolution 29:1019-1029.
2013 Tucker, R.P. Horizontal gene transfer in choanoflagellates. Journal of Experimental Zoology Part B: Molecular and Developmental Evolution 320:1-9.
2013 Dranow, D.B., R.P. Tucker and B.W. Draper. Germ cells are required to maintain a stable sexual phenotype. Developmental Biology, Jan 21. [e-pub ahead of print] (“Faculty of 1000 Recommended”)
2013 Tucker, R.P., J.F. Hess, Q. Gong, K. Garvey, B. Shibata and J.C. Adams. A thrombospondin in the anthozoan Nematostella vectensis is associated with the nervous system and upregulated during regeneration. Biology Open 2:217-226.
CHA 400, Developmental, Gross and Radiographic Anatomy (Course Director)
CHA 402, Cell and Tissue Biology
CHA 200, Graduate Human Gross Anatomy (Course Co-Director)
MCB 213, Developmental Biology
Teaching and Research Awards
- Davis Division Academic Senate Graduate/Professional School Distinguished Teaching Award 2012
- Kaiser Foundation Annual Award for Excellence in Teaching Basic Sciences, 1998, 2002, 2007, 2012
- Biochemistry and Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology Graduate Group Teaching Award, 2011
- UC Davis School of Medicine, Outstanding Basic Science Instructor, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2008
- UC Davis School of Medicine, Tupper Prize for Excellence in Teaching, 2007
- UC Davis School of Medicine, Excellence in Education Award, 2005
- Gian Toendury Prize for the Promotion of Research in Morphological Sciences, 1989