Professor Tony Harris

Tony J.C. Harris



St. George (downtown)

CSB Appointment


Research Areas

Animal Biology, Cell Biology, Developmental Biology, Genetics / Genomics, Molecular Biology, Quantitative Biology /Modelling, Systems Biology


Ph.D. Toronto 2003
B.Sc., Western 1996

Titles and Honors

Canada Research Chair in Cell Polarity and Animal Development (2005-2015)
Member, CIHR College of Reviewers
Member, Faculty of 1000 (Pattern formation section)

Primary Undergraduate Department

Cell & Systems Biology

Graduate Programs

Cell & Systems Biology

Research Description

My lab pursues how cells and tissues are built. Using the Drosophila embryo as a model system, our core approach is to manipulate molecules with genetics and to visualize effects on molecular complexes, cells and tissues using spinning disk confocal microscopy. We investigate how cytoskeletal networks form and function to shape cells and tissues, studying specific molecular regulators of these networks as well as how distinct networks impact each other, the cell cortex, and cell-cell adhesion complexes for multicellular development. We study cell polarity (how pathways direct assembly of molecular materials to particular locations of the cell), self-organization (how molecular control circuits amplify or downregulate complex formation), and emergent, multi-scale effects (how the positioning and activities of molecular materials induce physical changes to whole cells or tissues). Our fundamental research is relevant to human diseases, regenerative medicine, bioengineering, and materials science.

I enjoy working on difficult problems with trainees who are fascinated about fundamental mechanisms of cell biology. People with backgrounds in molecular/cellular/developmental biology are encouraged to contact me, as are those with backgrounds in mathematical simulations interested in applying this approach to cell biology. Please email a statement of interest, your CV and a copy of your academic record.

Contact Information

Office Phone: 416-946-0873
Office: RW517A/518
Lab: RW507
Lab Phone: 416-946-7225

Mailing Address

Department of Cell & Systems Biology
University of Toronto
25 Harbord St.
Toronto, ON M5S 3G5

Visit lab’s website

Recent News

Undergraduate researchers reveal exciting project results at year-end poster session to earn F Michael Barrett Award

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CSB Researchers earn multiple NSERC awards

Congratulations to Professors in CSB who earned NSERC Discovery and NSERC-RTI grants! NSERC Discovery Grants The Discovery Grant program supports…

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SCAR/WAVE complex recruitment to a supracellular actomyosin cable by myosin activators and a junctional Arf-GEF during Drosophila dorsal closure

Hunt EL, Rai H, Harris TJC, Fehon R
2022, Molecular Biology of the Cell, 10.1091/mbc.E22-03-0107

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Emergence of a smooth interface from growth of a dendritic network against a mechanosensitive contractile material

Sharma M, Jiang T, Jiang ZC, Moguel-Lehmer CE, Harris TJ
2021, eLife, 10.7554/eLife.66929

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The Arf-GEF Steppke promotes F-actin accumulation, cell protrusions and tissue sealing during Drosophila dorsal closure

Nam S, West JJ, Harris TJC
2020, PLOS ONE, 10.1371/journal.pone.0239357

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Apical polarity proteins recruit the RhoGEF Cysts to promote junctional myosin assembly.

Silver JT, Wirtz-Peitz F, Simões S, Pellikka M, Yan D, Binari R, Nishimura T, Li Y, Harris TJC, Perrimon N, Tepass U
2019, The Journal of cell biology, 218, 3397-3414, 31409654

Key roles of Arf small G proteins and biosynthetic trafficking for animal development

Rodrigues FF, Harris TJC
2019, Small GTPases, 10.1080/21541248.2017.1304854

Arf-GEF localization and function at myosin-rich adherens junctions via coiled-coil heterodimerization with an adaptor protein

Zheng S, West JJ, Yu CG, Harris TJC, Yamashita Y
2019, Molecular Biology of the Cell, 10.1091/mbc.E19-10-0566

Par-1 controls the composition and growth of cortical actin caps during Drosophila embryo cleavage

Harris TJ, Jiang T
2019, Journal of Cell Biology, 10.1083/jcb.201903152

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Sculpting epithelia with planar polarized actomyosin networks: Principles from Drosophila

Harris TJC
2018, Seminars in Cell & Developmental Biology, 10.1016/j.semcdb.2017.07.042

Organizing Complex Tissue Architecture by Pushing and Pulling Cell Contacts

Zhang Y, Harris TJC
2018, Developmental Cell, 10.1016/j.devcel.2018.02.003

Collision of Expanding Actin Caps with Actomyosin Borders for Cortical Bending and Mitotic Rounding in a Syncytium

Zhang Y, Yu JC, Jiang T, Fernandez-Gonzalez R, Harris TJC
2018, Developmental Cell, 10.1016/j.devcel.2018.04.024

Dynamics of PAR Proteins Explain the Oscillation and Ratcheting Mechanisms in Dorsal Closure

Durney CH, Harris TJC, Feng JJ
2018, Biophysical Journal, 10.1016/j.bpj.2018.10.014

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An Actomyosin-Arf-GEF Negative Feedback Loop for Tissue Elongation under Stress

West JJ, Zulueta-Coarasa T, Maier JA, Lee DM, Bruce AEE, Fernandez-Gonzalez R, Harris TJC
2017, Current Biology, 10.1016/j.cub.2017.06.038

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Cadherin Trafficking for Tissue Morphogenesis: Control and Consequences

West JJ, Harris TJC
2016, Traffic, 10.1111/tra.12407

The Arf GAP Asap promotes Arf1 function at the Golgi for cleavage furrow biosynthesis in Drosophila

Rodrigues FF, Shao W, Harris TJC
2016, Molecular Biology of the Cell, 10.1091/mbc.E16-05-0272

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PH Domain-Arf G Protein Interactions Localize the Arf-GEF Steppke for Cleavage Furrow Regulation in Drosophila

Lee DM, Rodrigues FF, Yu CG, Swan M, Harris TJ
2015, PloS one, 10, e0142562, 26556630

A Par-1-Par-3-Centrosome Cell Polarity Pathway and Its Tuning for Isotropic Cell Adhesion

Jiang T, McKinley RF, McGill MA, Angers S, Harris TJ
2015, Current biology : CB, 25, 2701-8, 26455305

Polarized E-cadherin endocytosis directs actomyosin remodeling during embryonic wound repair

Hunter MV, Lee DM, Harris TJ, Fernandez-Gonzalez R
2015, The Journal of cell biology, 210, 801-16, 26304727

Germ Cell Segregation from the Drosophila Soma Is Controlled by an Inhibitory Threshold Set by the Arf-GEF Steppke

Lee DM, Wilk R, Hu J, Krause HM, Harris TJ
2015, Genetics, 200, 863-72, 25971667

A Par-1-Par-3-Centrosome Cell Polarity Pathway and Its Tuning for Isotropic Cell Adhesion

Jiang T, McKinley RF, McGill MA, Angers S, Harris TJC
2015, Current Biology, 10.1016/j.cub.2015.08.063

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Stepping stone: a cytohesin adaptor for membrane cytoskeleton restraint in the syncytial Drosophila embryo

Liu J, Lee DM, Yu CG, Angers S, Harris TJ
2015, Molecular biology of the cell, 26, 711-25, 25540427

Coordinating the cytoskeleton and endocytosis for regulated plasma membrane growth in the early Drosophila embryo

Lee DM, Harris TJ
2014, Bioarchitecture, 4, 68-74, 24874871

Peptide binding properties of the three PDZ domains of Bazooka (Drosophila Par-3)

Yu CG, Tonikian R, Felsensteiner C, Jhingree JR, Desveaux D, Sidhu SS, Harris TJ
2014, PloS one, 9, e86412, 24466078

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Adherens junction distribution mechanisms during cell-cell contact elongation in Drosophila

Goldenberg G, Harris TJ
2013, PloS one, 8, e79613, 24223978

Bazooka inhibits aPKC to limit antagonism of actomyosin networks during amnioserosa apical constriction

David DJ, Wang Q, Feng JJ, Harris TJ
2013, Development (Cambridge, England), 140, 4719-29, 24173807

An Arf-GEF regulates antagonism between endocytosis and the cytoskeleton for Drosophila blastoderm development

Lee DM, Harris TJ
2013, Current biology : CB, 23, 2110-20, 24120639

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Displacement of basolateral Bazooka/PAR-3 by regulated transport and dispersion during epithelial polarization in Drosophila

McKinley RF, Harris TJ
2012, Molecular biology of the cell, 23, 4465-71, 23015757

Interactions between the PDZ domains of Bazooka (Par-3) and phosphatidic acid: in vitro characterization and role in epithelial development

Yu CG, Harris TJ
2012, Molecular biology of the cell, 23, 3743-53, 22833561

Assembly of Bazooka polarity landmarks through a multifaceted membrane-association mechanism

McKinley RF, Yu CG, Harris TJ
2012, Journal of cell science, 125, 1177-90, 22303000

An introduction to adherens junctions: from molecular mechanisms to tissue development and disease

Harris TJ
2012, Sub-cellular biochemistry, 60, 1-5, 22674065

Adherens junction assembly and function in the Drosophila embryo

Harris TJ
2012, International review of cell and molecular biology, 293, 45-83, 22251558

Live imaging of Drosophila embryos: quantifying protein numbers and dynamics at subcellular locations

David DJ, McGill MA, McKinley RF, Harris TJ
2012, Methods in molecular biology (Clifton, N.J.), 839, 1-17, 22218888

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Adherens junctions: from molecules to morphogenesis

Harris TJ, Tepass U
2010, Nature reviews. Molecular cell biology, 11, 502-14, 20571587

The PAR complex regulates pulsed actomyosin contractions during amnioserosa apical constriction in Drosophila

David DJ, Tishkina A, Harris TJ
2010, Development (Cambridge, England), 137, 1645-55, 20392741

A modifier screen for Bazooka/PAR-3 interacting genes in the Drosophila embryo epithelium

Shao W, Wu J, Chen J, Lee DM, Tishkina A, Harris TJ
2010, PloS one, 5, e9938, 20368978

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Independent cadherin-catenin and Bazooka clusters interact to assemble adherens junctions

McGill MA, McKinley RF, Harris TJ
2009, The Journal of cell biology, 185, 787-96, 19468069

How the cytoskeleton helps build the embryonic body plan: models of morphogenesis from Drosophila

Harris TJ, Sawyer JK, Peifer M
2009, Current topics in developmental biology, 89, 55-85, 19737642

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Control of cell flattening and junctional remodeling during squamous epithelial morphogenesis in Drosophila

Pope KL, Harris TJ
2008, Development (Cambridge, England), 135, 2227-38, 18508861

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aPKC controls microtubule organization to balance adherens junction symmetry and planar polarity during development

Harris TJ, Peifer M
2007, Developmental cell, 12, 727-38, 17488624

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The positioning and segregation of apical cues during epithelial polarity establishment in Drosophila

Harris TJ, Peifer M
2005, The Journal of cell biology, 170, 813-23, 16129788

Decisions, decisions: beta-catenin chooses between adhesion and transcription

Harris TJ, Peifer M
2005, Trends in cell biology, 15, 234-7, 15866026

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Regulation of cell-cell adhesion during Dictyostelium development

Siu CH, Harris TJ, Wang J, Wong E
2004, Seminars in cell & developmental biology, 15, 633-41, 15561583

Adherens junction-dependent and -independent steps in the establishment of epithelial cell polarity in Drosophila

Harris TJ, Peifer M
2004, The Journal of cell biology, 167, 135-47, 15479740

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Cytoskeleton Interactions Involved in the Assembly and Function of Glycoprotein-80 Adhesion Complexes in Dictyostelium

Harris TJC, Ravandi A, Awrey DE, Siu CH
2003, Journal of Biological Chemistry, 10.1074/jbc.M206241200

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Reciprocal raft-receptor interactions and the assembly of adhesion complexes

Harris TJ, Siu CH
2002, BioEssays : news and reviews in molecular, cellular and developmental biology, 24, 996-1003, 12386930

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Involvement of a Triton-insoluble Floating Fraction in Dictyostelium Cell-Cell Adhesion

Harris TJC, Awrey DE, Cox BJ, Ravandi A, Tsang A, Siu CH
2001, Journal of Biological Chemistry, 10.1074/jbc.M010016200

Assembly of Glycoprotein-80 Adhesion Complexes in Dictyostelium. Receptor compartmentalization and oligomerization in membrane rafts

Harris TJC, Ravandi A, Siu CH
2001, Journal of Biological Chemistry, 10.1074/jbc.M108030200

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