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John Tower

Professor of Biological Sciences

Contact Information
Phone: (213) 740-5384
Office: RRI 219C

Curriculum Vitae
Personal Website

Biographical Sketch

John Tower received his PhD in 1988 from The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Biochemistry, Cellular, and Molecular Biology Training Program, where he worked under the direction of Dr. Barbara Sollner-Webb on the topic of rDNA transcriptional regulation. He subsequently undertook postdoctoral training with Dr. Allan C. Spradling, at the Department of Embryology, Carnegie Institution of Washington, in Baltimore, where he began ongoing studies on Drosophila P element mutagenesis and chorion gene amplification. In 1991 he joined the faculty in the Department of Biological Sciences, University of Southern California, in what is now the Molecular and Computational Biology Program. Dr. Tower has been investigating the molecular genetics of aging in Drosophila since 1989, with a particular emphasis on transgenic technologies, hsps, superoxide dismutase and p53.


Ph.D. Biochemistry, Cellular and Molecular Biology Training Program, The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, 1988

Postdoctoral Training

Postdoctoral fellow, The Carnegie Institution of Washington, Dept of Embryology, Baltimore, 1988-1991  

Academic Appointment, Affiliation, and Employment History

Tenure Track Appointments

Professor Biological Sciences, University of Southern California, 2010-  
Associate Professor Biological Sciences, University of Southern California, 1999-2010  
Assistant Professor Biological Sciences, University of Southern California, 1991-1999  

PostDoctoral Appointments

Helen Hay Whitney Memorial Foundation Fellow, Carnegie Institution of Washington, Baltimore, 1988-1991  

Description of Research

Summary Statement of Research Interests

Professor Tower's research primarily focuses on the following two areas: the molecular genetics of aging in Drosophila and Drosophila chorion gene amplification. He is taking two approaches to his research on aging, the first of which identifies genes that directly regulate life span. His current emphasis with these techniques is to test candidate genes involved in regulating oxidative stress responses and nuclear-mitochondrial signaling. He is particularly interested in how the post-mitotic muscle, nerve and liver cells of the adult maintain function during aging, and how stem cells populations are maintained in the ovary. These studies have identified p53 and sexual differentiation as key contributors to aging. The second general approach he uses is studying the regulation of heat shock gene expression as a function of age, in particular the hsp70 and hsp22 genes: increased expression of these genes has been found to be a biomarker of aging. In his investigation of chorion gene amplification, Professor Tower has cloned and characterized two amplification trans-regulators, k43 and chiffon, and found that they are related to origin regulatory proteins in yeasts, ORC2 and Dbf4 respectively. Prior analysis of cis-sequence elements and their relationship to origins was hampered by severe chromosomal position effects. He found that flanking the ends of transgenic constructs with transcriptional insulator elements, called "Suppressor of Hairy-wing protein binding sites" (SHWBSs) protected the constructs from position effects. The data implicated chromatin structure in origin regulation, and provided a powerfully improved assay. Using such buffered constructs he has been able to analyze cis-sequence requirements and functions in detail. Professor Tower found that functionally distinct, sequence-specific replicator and origin elements are required for amplification.

Research Keywords

aging, hsp70, hsp22, oxidative damage, ROS, life span, stem cells, replicative senescence, DNA replication origins, drosophila chorion gene amplification, replicator, follicle cells, biological scienc

Research Specialties

Aging and Development Biology, DNA replication, Signal Transduction and Gene Regulation


Journal Article

Shen, J., Tower, J. (2013). Aging, MnSOD, and hormesis mechanisms converge on liver mUPR. Cell Cycle. Vol. 12 (202013/09/17), pp. 3237-8.
Tower, J., Landis, G., Gao, R., Luan, A., Lee, J., Sun, Y. (2013). Variegated Expression of Hsp22 Transgenic Reporters Indicates Cell-specific Patterns of Aging in Drosophila Oenocytes. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. (2013/06/01)
Tower, J. (2012). Stress and stem cells. Wiley Interdiscip Rev Dev Biol. Vol. 1 (62013/06/27), pp. 789-802.
Landis, G., Shen, J., Tower, J. (2012). Gene expression changes in response to aging compared to heat stress, oxidative stress and ionizing radiation in Drosophila melanogaster. Aging (Albany NY). Vol. 4 (112012/12/06), pp. 768-89.
Ardekani, R., Huang, Y. M., Sancheti, P., Stanciauskas, R., Tavare, S., Tower, J. (2012). Using GFP video to track 3D movement and conditional gene expression in free-moving flies. PLoS One. Vol. 7 (72012/07/26), pp. e40506.
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