Skip to Content

Jill M. Schumacher, Ph.D.

Present Title & Affiliation

Primary Appointment

Associate Professor, Department of Genetics, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX

Dual/Joint/Adjunct Appointment

Associate Professor, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, Houston, TX

Research Interests

  • Chromosome and spindle dynamics
  • Cell cycle
  • mitotic kinases
  • C. elegans


Our research is focused on the regulation of chromosome dynamics during the eukaryotic cell cycle. For these studies, we utilize genetic, biochemical and cell biological methods using the soil nematode, C. elegans, as a model system. We have concentrated our efforts on two members of a highly conserved family of proteins, the Aurora kinases. In the past five years, the Aurora kinases have emerged as critical oncogenes that contribute to multiple tumor types in man. Deciphering how these important kinases are regulated during the cell cycle is an important challenge.

 The C. elegans Aurora A kinase AIR-1 and Aurora B kinase AIR-2 are each uniquely localized to the mitotic spindle and are required at different times during the C. elegans cell cycle. The AIR-1 protein is associated with mitotic centrosomes and is required early in mitosis for the proper assembly and function of the mitotic spindle. Unlike AIR-1, the AIR-2 protein is initially localized to metaphase chromosomes and translocates to the central spindle microtubules at anaphase. AIR-2 function is required for appropriate kinetochore/microtubule attachments and for the organization of the central spindle, a structure that is essential for the completion of cytokinesis. 

 My lab has identified two highly conserved activators of the Aurora B kinase, INCENP and the Tousled kinase. Although INCENP clearly has a role in mitotic chromosome segregation, Tousled has been implicated in chromatin assembly and transcription. We hypothesize that each activator/Aurora B complex has a distinct subset of substrates that are involved in specific aspects of chromosome dynamics. We are now undertaking molecular and genetic screens to find such substrates.

A separate project in the lab is focused on the role of AIR-1 and its substrates in germ cell development. AIR-1 is required for germ cell proliferation and it phosphorylates a second conserved kinase, GCK-1, that is required for appropriate progression of the meiotic cell cycle. Interestingly, GCK-1 localizes to P-granules in the C. elegans germline and early embryo. P-granules are associated with germ nuclei and are the primary site of RNA transport from the nucleus. In the absence of GCK-1, the association of P-granules with nuclei is lost and key players in nucleo-cytoplasmic RNA transport are mislocalized. We hypothesize that GCK-1 regulates RNA trafficking through P-granules and their sorting to ribosomes or storage RNPs. Interestingly, AIR-1 phosphorylation changes the position of GCK-1 from the base of P-granules to the exterior surface, suggesting that phosphorylation profoundly affects the contribution of GCK-1 to P-granule functionality.

View a complete list of Dr. Schumacher's publications.

Office Address

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
Department of Genetics, Unit 1010
1515 Holcombe Blvd.
Houston, TX 77030
Room Number: S11.8136C
Phone: (713) 834-6331

Education & Training

Degree-Granting Education

1995 University of Washington, Seattle, WA, PHD, Genetics

Postgraduate Training

1996-1999 Postdoctoral Fellow, Cell Biology, Frederick Cancer Research and Development Center, Frederick, MD, Andy Golden Ph.D. and Peter J. Donovan Ph.D.

Selected Publications

Peer-Reviewed Original Research Articles

1. Bishop JD, Schumacher JM. Phosphorylation of the carboxyl-terminus of inner centromere protein (INCENP) by the Aurora B Kinase stimulates Aurora B kinase activity. J Biol Chem 277(31):27577-27580, 8/2002. PMCID: PMC1855214.
2. Han Z, Saam JR, Adams HP, Mango SE, Schumacher JM. The C. elegans Tousled-like kinase (TLK-1) has an essential role in transcription. Curr Biol 13(22):1921-1929, 11/2003. PMCID: PMC1794221.
3. Bishop JD, Han Z, Schumacher JM. The C. elegans Aurora B kinase AIR-2 phosphorylates and is required for the localization of a BimC kinesin to meiotic and mitotic spindles. Mol Biol Cell 16(2):742-756, 2/2005. PMCID: PMC545908.
4. Han Z, Riefler GM, Saam JR, Mango SE, Schumacher JM. The C. elegans Tousled-like kinase contributes to chromosome segregation as a substrate and regulator of the Aurora B kinase. Curr Biol 15(10):894-904, 5/2005. PMCID: PMC2653428.
5. Zhang K, Lin W, Latham JA, Riefler GM, Schumacher JM, Chan C, Tatchell K, Hawke DH, Kobayashi R, Dent SY. The Set1 methyltransferase opposes Ipl1 Aurora kinase functions in chromosome segregation. Cell 122(5):723-734, 9/2005. PMCID: PMC1794220.
6. Riefler GM, Dent SY, Schumacher JM. Tousled-Mediated Activation Of Aurora B Kinase Does Not Require Tousled Kinase Activity In Vivo. J Biol Chem 283(19):12763-8, 5/2008. e-Pub 3/2008. PMCID: PMC2442327.
7. Heallen TR, Adams HP, Furuta T, Verbrugghe KJ, Schumacher JM. An Afg2/Spaf-related Cdc48-like AAA ATPase regulates the stability and activity of the C. elegans Aurora B kinase AIR-2. Dev Cell 15(4):603-616, 10/2008. PMCID: PMC2582393.
8. de Carvalho CE, Zaaijer S, Smolikov S, Gu Y, Schumacher JM, Colaiácovo MP. LAB-1 antagonizes the Aurora B kinase in C. elegans. Genes Dev 22(20):2869-85, 10/2008. PMCID: PMC2569883.
9. Schouest KR, Kurasawa, Y, Furuta T, Hisamoto N, Matsumoto K, Schumacher JM. The Germinal Center Kinase GCK-1 is a negative regulator of MAP kinase activation and apoptosis in the C. elegans germline. PLoS ONE 4:e7450,, 10/2009. PMCID: PMCPMC2757678.
10. Deyter GMR, Furuta T, Kurasawa Y, Schumacher JM. Caenorhabditis elegans Cyclin B3 Is Required for Multiple Mitotic Processes Including Alleviation of a Spindle Checkpoint–Dependent Block in Anaphase Chromosome Segregation. PLoS Genetics 6(11):e1001218,, 11/2010. e-Pub 11/2010. PMCID: PMCPMC2991249.
11. Richie CT, Bembenek JN, Chestnut B, Furuta T, Schumacher JM, Wallenfang M, Golden A. Protein phosphatase 5 is a negative regulator of separase function during cortical granule exocytosis in C. elegans. Journal of Cell Science 124(17):2903-2913, 9/2011. PMCID: PMCPMC3166036.
12. Kurrina, S, Stratton, SA, Coban, ZH, Schumacher, JM, Grompe, M, Duncan, AW, Barton, MC. p53 regulates a mitotic transcription program and determine ploidy in mouse liver. Hepatology 57(5):2004-2013, 2013. PMCID: PMCPMC3632650.

Last updated: 3/2/2015