Department of Biology

Dr. Jason R. JessenJESSEN
Associate Professor

Contact Information:
Phone: 615.898.2060
Fax: 615.898.5093
Office: SCI 2014
Campus Mailing Address: MTSU Box 60, Murfreesboro, TN 37132


1989-1992       Augustana College, Sioux Falls, SD; BA degree, Biology
1992-1995       South Dakota State University, Brookings, SD; MS degree, Biology and Microbiology, Mentor: Christopher C.L. Chase, DVM, PhD
1995-1999       Medical College of Georgia, Augusta, GA; PhD degree, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Mentor: Shuo Lin, PhD

2000-2005       Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN; Department of Biological Sciences and the Program in Developmental Biology, Mentor: Lilianna Solnica-Krezel, PhD

BIOL 4210/4211, Cell and Molecular Biology and Lab


     My laboratory studies how planar cell polarity is regulated during complex migration events such as the collective movement of embryonic zebrafish gastrula cells. We use a combination of in vivo methodologies in the zebrafish embryo and in vitro techniques in human cancer cells to identify underlying molecular mechanisms. We are particularly interested in understanding how components of the planar cell polarity pathway interact with other regulators of cell migration including matrix metalloproteinases, integrins, and fibronectin. Students in my lab approach these questions using multiple techniques: molecular methods, immunolabeling, western blot, in situ hybridization, mRNA and antisense morpholino microinjection of zebrafish embryos, time-lapse and confocal microscopic imaging, and human cell culture. Our work is currently funded by a grant from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (RO1GM102356-01).

American Society for Cell Biology
     Society for Developmental Biology


     Editorial Board
     ISRN Developmental Biology

     Journal Review
Cells Tissues Organs, Development, Developmental Biology, Developmental Dynamics, EMBO Reports, Experimental Cell Research, Journal of Cell Biology, Journal of   Cell Science, Mechanisms of Development, PLOS Biology, PLOS Genetics, PLOS One, and Zebrafish

     Grant Review
Ad hoc reviewer for the National Science Foundation (NSF) – Integrative Organismal Systems Cluster

     Study Section Membership
American Cancer Society (ACS) – Peer Review Committee for Cell Structure and Metastasis (CSM)


A. Original Investigation

  1. Dohn, M.R., Mundell, N.A., Sawyer, L.M., Dunlap, J.A., and Jessen, J.R. (2013). Planar cell polarity proteins differentially regulate extracellular matrix organization and assembly during zebrafish gastrulation. Dev. Biol. (submitted).
  2. Morell, M., Duc, T.N., Willis, A., Syed, S., Lee, J., Deu, E., Deng, Y., Xiao, J., Turk, B., Jessen, J.R., Weiss, S., and Bogyo, M. (2013). Coupling protein engineering with probe design to inhibit and image matrix metallo proteases with controlled specificity. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 135, 9139-9148.
  3. Quick, R.E., Dunlap, J.A., and Jessen, J.R. (2012). Expression analysis of zebrafish membrane type-2 matrix metalloproteinases during embryonic development. Gene Expr. Patterns 12, 254-260.
  4. Williams, B.B., Mundell, N.A., Dunlap, J.A., and Jessen, J.R.(2012). The planar cell polarity protein VANGL2 coordinates remodeling of the extracellular matrix. Commun. Int. Biol. Volume 5/Issue 4.
  5. Williams, B.B., Cantrell, V.A., Mundell, N.A., Bennett, A.C., Quick, R.E., and Jessen, J.R. (2012). VANGL2 regulates membrane trafficking of MMP14 to control cell polarity and migration. J. Cell Sci. 125, 2141-2147.
  6. Latimer, A. and Jessen, J.R. (2010). Extracellular matrix assembly and organization during zebrafish gastrulation. Matrix Biol. 29, 89-96.
  7. Cantrell, V.A. and Jessen, J.R. (2010). The planar cell polarity protein Van Gogh-Like 2 regulates tumor cell migration and matrix metalloproteinase-dependent invasion. Cancer Lett. 287, 54-61.
  8. Zheng, X., Xiang, Y., Cho, H.P., Jessen, J.R., Zhong, T.P., Solnica-Krezel, L., and Brown, H.A. (2009). Phospholipase D1 is required for angiogenesis of intersegmental blood vessels in zebrafish. Dev. Biol. 328, 363-376.
  9. Latimer, A.J. and Jessen, J.R. (2008). hgf/c-met expression and functional analysis during zebrafish embryogenesis. Dev. Dyn. 237, 3904-3915.
  10. Coyle, R.C., Latimer, A., and Jessen, J.R. (2008). Membrane-type 1 matrix metalloproteinase regulates cell migration during zebrafish gastrulation: Evidence for an interaction with non-canonical Wnt signaling. Exp. Cell Res. 314, 2150-2162.
  11. Bradley, K.M., Elmore, J.B., Breyer, J.P., Yaspan, B.L., Jessen, J.R., Knapik, E.W., and Smith, J.R. (2007). A major zebrafish polymorphism resource for genetic mapping. Genome Biol. 8, R55.
  12. Panizzi, J.R., Jessen, J.R., Drummond, I.A., and Solnica-Krezel, L. (2006). New functions for a vertebrate Rho guanine nucleotide exchange factor in ciliated epithelia. Development 134, 921-931.
  13. Penberthy, W.T., Zhao, C., Zhang, Y., Jessen, J.R., Yang, Z., Bricaud, O., Collazo, A. Meng, A., and Lin, S. (2004). Pur alpha and Sp8 are opposing regulators of neural gata2 expression. Dev. Biol. 275, 225-234.
  14. Jessen J.R., and Solnica-Krezel, L. (2004). Identification and developmental expression pattern of van gogh-like 1, a second zebrafish strabismus homologue. Gene Expr. Patterns 4, 339-344.
  15. Brownlie, A., Horsey, C., Oates, A.C., Paw, B.H., Palick, A.M., Witkowska, H.B., Flint, J., Higgs, D., Jessen, J., Bahary, N., Zhu, H., Lin, S., and Zon, L.I. (2002). Characterization of embryonic globin genes of the zebrafish. Dev. Biol. 255, 48-61.
  16. Jessen, J.R., Topczewski, J., Bingham, S., Sepich, D.S., Marlow, F., Chandrasekhar, A., and Solnica-Krezel, L. (2002). Zebrafish trilobite identifies new roles for Strabismus in gastrulation and neuronal movements. Nat. Cell Biol. 4, 610-615.
              This paper was featured in a NatureGenetics News and Views article entitled "Strabismus shows the way" by Alan Packer, Nat. Genet. 31, 335 (2002).
  17. Jessen, J.R., Jessen, T.N., Vogel, S.S., and Lin, S. (2001). Concurrent expression of recombination activating genes 1 and 2 in zebrafish olfactory sensory neurons. Genesis 29, 156-162.
  18. Jessen, J.R., Willett, C.E., and Lin, S. (1999). Artificial chromosome transgenesis reveals long-distance negative regulation of rag1 in zebrafish. Nat. Genet. 23, 15-16.
  19. Jessen, J.R., Meng, A., McFarlane, R.J., Paw, B.H., Zon, L., Smith, G.R., and Lin, S. (1998). Modification of bacterial artificial chromosomes through Chi-stimulated homologous recombination and its application in zebrafish transgenesis. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 95, 5121-5126.
  20. Long, Q., Meng, A., Wang, H., Jessen, J.R., Farrell, M.J., and Lin, S. (1997). GATA-1 expression pattern can be recapitulated in living transgenic zebrafish using GFP reporter gene. Development 124, 4105-4111.

B. Reviews

  1. (INVITED) Jessen, J.R. (2009). Non-canonical Wnt signaling in tumor progression and metastasis. Zebrafish 6, 21-28.
  2. Jessen, J.R. and Solnica-Krezel, L. (2005). Axis formation – β-catenin catches a Wnt. Cell 120, 736-737.

C. Book Chapters

  1. (INVITED) Mundell, N.A. and Jessen, J.R. (2013).Extracellular matrix remodeling in zebrafish development. Extracellular Matrix in Development, Eds. Doug W. DeSimone and Robert P. Mecham. Springer-Verlag, Berlin.
  2. (INVITED) Jessen, J.R. (2012). Analyzing Planar Cell Polarity during Zebrafish Gastrulation. Methods Mol. Biol., Eds. Ping Chen and Kursad Turksen. Springer Press. 839, 69-78.
  3. Jessen J.R., and Solnica-Krezel, L. (2005). Morphogenetic cell movements shaping the zebrafish gastrula. Advances in Developmental Biology, Ed. Marek Mlodzik. Elsevier Press. Chapter 7.
  4. Gilmour, D.T., Jessen, J.R., and Lin, S. (2002). Manipulating gene expression in the zebrafish. Zebrafish, A Practical Approach. Ed. Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard and Ralf Dahm. Oxford University Press. Chapter 5.
  5. Meng, A., Jessen, J.R., and Lin, S. (1998). Transgenesis. Meth. Cell Biol. 60, 133-148. Chapter 7.