Mark A. Hiller

Associate Professor of Biological Sciences (2002)

410-337- 6306


A.B., Molecular Biology, Princeton University
Ph.D., Department of Biological Sciences, Carnegie Mellon University
Postdoctoral Training, Department of Developmental Biology and Department of Genetics, Stanford University School of Medicine

Areas of Scholarly Expertise and Interest

Genetics, Molecular Biology


Professor Hiller's research interests include developmentally-regulated gene expression and the function of the RNA polymerase II transcription machinery in eukaryotes.

The expression of genetic information is a tightly regulated process that directs both cell fate decisions and development.  Every gene in the genome of a multi-cellular organism must be expressed in the correct cell type and at the correct time during development.  However, the mechanisms that regulate this process are largely unknown. To study tissue-specific transcription, Dr. Hiller and his students study spermatogenesis in the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster. The complex cellular changes that produce fully differentiated sperm depend on a robust transcriptional program in developing germline cells. Using a wide range of genetic and molecular biological techniques, they are investigating several male-sterile mutants that do not correctly regulate gene expression of spermatid differentiation genes.  Analysis of the male sterile mutants indicates that function of several tissue-specific subunits of the general RNA polymerase II machinery are important for transcription in the fly germline.  Recent work in Dr. Hiller's lab has focused on a testis-specific homolog of a TFIIA subunit.  Interestingly, mammals also have tissue-specific general transcription machinery, and thus the general mechanisms regulating gene expression in Drosophila may be conserved in mammals.

Representative Publications

Chen X, Hiller M, Sancak Y, Fuller MT (2005) Tissue-specific TAFs counteract Polycomb to turn on
terminal differentiation. Science 310: 869-72.

Perezgasga, L, Jian J-Q, Bolival Jr.,B, Hiller M, Benson E, Fuller MT, White-Cooper H (2004) Regulation of transcription of meiotic cell cycle and terminal differentiation genes by the testis-specific Zn-finger protein matotopetli. Development 131: 1691-1702.

Hiller MA, Chen X, Pringle MJ, Suchorolski M, Sancak Y, Viswanathan S, Bolival B, Lin T-Y, Marino S, Fuller MT (2004) Testis-specific TAF homologs collaborate to control a tissue-specific transcription program. Development 131: 5297-308.

Hwa JJ, Hiller MA, Fuller MT, Santel A (2002) Differential expression of the Drosophila mitofusin genes fuzzy onions and dMfn. Mech. Development 116: 213-216.

Hiller MA, Lin T-Y, Wood C, Fuller MT (2001) Developmental regulation of transcription by a tissue-specific TAFII homolog.  Genes and Development 15: 1021-1030.

Invited Lectures/Presentations at Professional Meetings

*Brandt A, *Jernigan C, *Wood M, Cain C, Hiller M, The Drosophila melanogaster gene tfiia-s-2 encodes a male germline-expressed homolog of the small subunit of the TFIIA general transcription factor.  Poster presentation, 53ed Annual Drosophila Research Conference, Chicago, IL, April 2012

Hiller MA, *Daniel A, *Wood M, Cain C,  The tfiia-s-2 gene is a germ-line-specific homolog of the small subunit of TFIIA. Poster presentation, 52ed Annual Drosophila Research Conference, San Diego, CA, April, 2011

Hiller MA, Balraj E, *McDowell E, *Wood M, Cain C, The D. melanogaster male germline expresses a tissue-specific homolog of the small subunit of the General Transcription Factor, TFIIA.  51st Annual Drosophila Research Conference, Washington D.C., April 2010

"Forecasting the Future: Genes and Cancer", Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (Towson), Baltimore County Public Library, Cockysville, MD, March 30, 2008

"Drosophila research and Pedagogy at Primarily Undergraduate Institutions (PUI). Co-organizer and moderator, 50th Annual Drosophila Research Conference workshop, Chicago, IL, March 2009

"Drosophila research and Pedagogy at Primarily Undergraduate Institutions (PUI). Co-organizer and moderator, 49th Annual Drosophila Research Conference workshop, San Diego, CA, April, 2008

Transcriptional regulation and cellular differentiation in the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster. Department of Biology, Muhlenberg College, Allentown, PA, March 2006

Recent Student Research Projects

The isolation and characterization of a tfiia-s-2 mutant in Drosophila melanogaster, Maura Coughlin '14.

Protein-protein interactions between widely-expressed and testis-specific subunits of TFIIA and TFIID in Drosophila melanogaster, Leah Hirschman '15.

Awards/Significant Accomplishments

Dr. Hiller has received research funding from an NSRA fellowship from the NIH, a Lalor Foundation research fellowship and a National Science Foundation (CAREER) award. His research has also been supported by Goucher College summer student research awards and the Nast-Naron Fund of the Rotary Foundation.

Courses Taught

Biological Diversity I and Lab
Biological Diversity I Honors
Techniques in Genetics and Molecular Biology
Advanced Genetics
Seminar in Genetics and Human Disease
Human Genetics (non-majors)
Frontiers (First Year Seminar):  Clones, Corn, and Cancer: Everyday Genetics