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Indiana University Bloomington

Claire WalczakClaire Walczak

Professor, Medical Science

Office: Myers Hall 262

Phone: 812/855-5919

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PhD. 1993, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Post-doc, University of California- San Francisco
Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Executive Director, IU Light Microscopy Imaging Center


Accurate cell division is essential for cells to distribute the genetic material properly between the two daughter cells. Defects in cell division result in aneuploidy, wherein cells receive the incorrect number of chromosomes, and is a hallmark of genomic instability and cancer. Therefore, understanding the mechanisms that control cell division is of fundamental biomedical importance, and identification of proteins that are essential for mitosis and whose levels are mis-regulated in tumor cells is an important avenue for development of new therapeutic strategies. To address these questions we use a combination of biochemistry, biophysics, cell biology, structural biology computational modeling, drug screening, expression analysis, and high resolution imaging techniques to make fundamental new insights into cancer cell division.

Mitosis is carried out by the cellular machine called the mitotic spindle, which is composed of microtubules and associated proteins.  The dynamics of these microtubules are critical for spindle function and are the targets of several anti-neoplastic agents that are front-line treatment for multiple types of cancers.  However, side effects can be severe and result in discontinuation of treatment. Thus, identifying predictors for paclitaxel-resistance and reducing side effects are of high clinical importance.  In addition, changes in microtubule dynamics have been implicated in the extent of aneuploidy in cells; therefore understanding the precise regulation of microtubule dynamics may provide new tools to reduce genomic instability. 


Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Adjunct Professor of Anatomy and Cell Biology
Adjunct Professor of Biology
Member, Interdisciplinary Biochemistry Graduate Program
Graduate Training Faculty, Genetics, Cell, and Developmental Biology Program

Awards and Honors

Leukemia and Lymphoma Scholar Award (2001)
American Cancer Society Research Scholar (2003)
Women in Cell Biology Junior Career Recognition Award from American Society for Cell Biology (2003)
Elected to ASCB  Council (2013)

Representative Publications

Weaver, L.N., Ems-McClung, S.C., Chen, S.R., Yang, G., Shaw, S.L., and Walczak, C.E. (2015).  The Ran-GTP Gradient Spatially Regulates XCTK2 in the Spindle.  Curr. Biol. 25: 1509-1514.

Verhey, K.J., Cochran, J.C., and Walczak, C.E. (2015).  The Kinesin Superfamily in “Kinesins and Cancer”, Frank Kozielski, editor.  Springer.  Pg. 1-26. 

Pannu, V., Rida, P.C.G, Ogden, A., Pawar, S., Bowen, N.J., Cheng, A., Rudd, K., Gupta, M.V., Oprea-Ilies, O., Walczak, C.E., Cantuaria, C., and Aneja, R. (2015).  Overexpression of Human Kinesin-14 family motor HSET Fuels Tumor Progression and Predicts Poor Clinical Outcomes in Breast Cancer Patients.  Oncotarget.  6: 6079-6091.  

Walczak, C.E., Gayek, S., and Ohi, R. (2013) Microtubule Depolymerizing Kinesins.  Annu. Rev. Cell Dev. Biol.  219:417-441.

Ems-McClung, S.C., Hainline, S.G., Devare, J.,  Zong, H., Cai, S. Carnes, S., Shaw, S.L., and Walczak, C.E. (2013).  Aurora B Regulates MCAK Activity Through a Phospho-conformational Switch that Reduces MCAK Association.  Curr. Biol.  23:2491-2499.

Huang, R., Oh, H., Arrendale, A., Martin, V.A., Galan, J., Workman, E.J., Stout, J.R., Walczak, C.E., Tao, W.A., Borch, R.F., Geahlen, R.L. (2013). Intracellular Targets for a Phosphotyrosine Peptidomimetic Include the Mitotic Kinesin, MCAK.  Biochem. Pharmacol. 86: 597-611.  . 

Stout, J.R., Yount, A.L., Powers, J.A., LeBlanc, C., Ems-McClung, S.C., and Walczak, C.E. (2011).  Kif18B Interacts with EB1 and Controls Astral Microtubule Length during Mitosis. Mol. Biol. Cell. 22:3070-3080.

Weaver, L.N., Ems-McClung, S.C., Stout, J.R., LeBlanc, C., Shaw, S.L. Gardner, M.K., and Walczak, C.E. (2011).  Ki18A Utilizes a Microtubule Binding Site in the Tail for Plus-end Localization and Spindle Length Regulation.  Curr. Biol. 21:1500-1506. PMID: 21885282

Walczak, C.E., Cai, S., and Khodjakov, A. (2010).  Chromosome Motility During Mitosis.  Nature Reviews Mol. Cell Biology.  11:  91-102.

Walczak, C.E., Rizk, R.S, and Shaw, S.L.  (2010). The Use of Fluorescence Redistribution after Photobleaching for Analysis of Cellular Microtubule Dynamics.  Methods Cell Biol. 97:35-52. 

Cai, S., O’Connell, Khodjakov, A.  and Walczak, C.E. (2009). Chromosome Congression in the Absence of K-fibres. Nat. Cell Biol.  11: 832-838. 

Rizk, R., Bohannon, K., Wetzel, L., Powers, J.A., Shaw, S.L, and Walczak, C.E. (2009). MCAK and Paclitaxel Have Differential Effects on Spindle Organization and Microtubule Dynamics. Mol. Biol. Cell. 20:1639-1651.