Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology Faculty . Dr. Andrew Bendall

Dr. Andrew Bendall  associate Professor
and graduate studies coordinator

Dr. Andrew Bendall


(graduate program)

Office: SSC 3459
Ext: 53491

Lab: SSC 3405-6
Ext: 56496


Captivated by natural history from an early age, my professional interest in biology was first kindled as an undergraduate in Australia's bush capital, taking upper level courses in biochemistry, molecular biology, and zoology. An early grounding in molecular biology followed as an honours student at the John Curtin School of Medical Research at the ANU. My Ph.D. training at the CSIRO Laboratory of Biomolecular Engineering in Sydney, was in the transcriptional control of eukaryotic gene expression, with emphasis on the DNA binding specificity of mammalian transcription factors. I then moved to the United States where I applied my knowledge of gene regulatory mechanisms to the developing vertebrate embryo. With a postdoctoral award from the American Heart Association, I developed strategies for misexpression of regulatory genes in the chicken embryo as an invivo model system in which to study the regulation of gene expression, cell differentiation, and tissue patterning during vertebrate embryogenesis. My laboratory continues to use this experimental strategy, among others, to investigate the molecular mechanisms of animal development.


B.Sc. Australian National University
Ph.D. Macquarie University (Sydney)


Homeobox genes encode a large and vitally important family of embryonically expressed transcription factors that regulate the essential processes of development. We are currently investigating the Dlx gene family during chick and mouse development. Unravelling the functions and mechanisms of action of this multi-member homeobox family promises to reveal larger truths about the cell-type specificity of protein function, the nature of functional redundancy, the acquisition of novel protein functions, and the evolution of animal bodies.

The chicken embryo has a distinguished history in developmental biology as a model vertebrate organism for the ability of investigators to manipulate embryonic tissues and, more recently, levels of gene activity. For us, the chicken embryo holds a central position in our attempts to decipher the mechanisms that regulate gene expression, cell fate, and morphogenesis. We combine in vivo experiments like retroviral-mediated transgenesis in chicken embryos with in vitro and cellular studies that, together, define the biochemical basis for biological functions. These studies are often complemented with molecular genetic approaches in the mouse.

Current projects include:

  • Defining the function of Dlx genes in chondrocyte differentiation
  • Investigating Dlx-mediated craniofacial patterning
  • Identifying novel Dlx co-factors
  • Structure-function analyses of Dlx-mediated transcription

Selected Publications

Gordon, C.T., Brinas, I.M.L., Rodda, F.A., Bendall, A.J., & Farlie, P.G. (2010) Role of Dlx genes in craniofacial morphogenesis: Dlx2 influences skeletal patterning by inducing ectomesenchymal aggregation in ovo. Evol. Develop.  12(5): 459-473

Zhu, H. & Bendall, A.J. (2009) Dlx5 is a cell-autonomous regulator of chondrocyte hypertrophy in mice and functionally substitutes for Dlx6 during endochondral ossification. PLoS ONE 4(11): e8097

Coubrough, M.L. & Bendall, A.J. (2006) Impaired nuclear import of mammalian Dlx4 proteins as a consequence of rapid sequence divergence. Exp. Cell Res. 312(19):3880-3891

Hsu, S-h.C., Noamani, B., Abernethy, D.E., Zhu, H., Levi, G., & Bendall, A.J. (2006) Dlx5- and Dlx6-mediated chondrogenesis: differential domain requirements for a conserved function. Mech. Dev. 123(11): 819-830

Zhu, H. & Bendall, A.J. (2006) Dlx3 is expressed in the ventral forebrain of chicken embryos: implications for the evolution of the Dlx gene family. Int. J. Dev. Biol. 50(1): 71-75

Bendall, A.J., Hu, G., Levi, G., & Abate-Shen, C. (2003) Dlx5 regulates chondrocyte differentiation at multiple stages. Int. J. Dev. Biol. 47:335-344

Bendall, A.J. & Abate-Shen, C. (2000) Roles for Msx and Dlx homeoproteins in vertebrate development. Gene 247:17-31

Bendall, A.J., Hu, G., Ding, J., Shen, M.M., & Abate-Shen, C. (1999) Msx1 antagonizes the myogenic activity of Pax3 in migrating limb muscle precursors. Development 126:4965-4976

Hu*, G., Vastardis*, H., Bendall*, A.J., Wang, Z., Logan, M., Zhang, H., Nelson, C., Stein, S., Greenfield, N., Seidman, C.E., Seidman, J.G., and Abate-Shen, C. (1998) Haploinsufficiency of MSX1: a mechanism for selective tooth agenesis. Mol. Cell. Biol. 18:6044- 6051 (* co-first author)

Bendall, A.J., Rincon-Limas, D.E., Botas, J. & Abate-Shen, C. (1998) Protein complex formation between Msx1 and Lhx2 homeoproteins is incompatible with DNA binding activity. Differentiation 63:151-157


I have had a long-standing involvement with the teaching of first year biology, including the development and delivery of the new Introduction to Molecular and Cellular Biology (BIOL1090). I also teach the senior level Genetics and Molecular Biology of Development (MBG*4040/4070). At any given time I also have one or two undergraduate students studying and training in my laboratory in the fourth year Molecular and Cellular Biology projects course (MCB*4500/4510). To date, three of these students have elected to stay on with my group as graduate students.
At the graduate level, I have been an instructor for MBG*6060 Topics in Cell Biology and Genetics (now called MCB*6310 Advanced Topics in Developmental and Cellular Biology).

Lab Members

Wadood Malik (M.Sc. student)

At Guelph article

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