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Robert O'Hagan

Assistant Professor, Biology

Science Hall 130
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The O’Hagan lab uses a microscopic roundworm, C. elegans, to study molecular signposts that regulate intracellular traffic and cytoskeletal structure. Using the tools of molecular genetics, cell biology, and microscopy, we have found genes that encode the enzymes that install or remove these signposts. These signposts are particularly prevalent on the microtubules that comprise the axoneme of cilia and flagella. Our future goals include facilitating the understanding of how ciliary structure and function affect neuroregeneration and neurodegeneration, as well as how microtubule signposts may be targeted to create new treatments.

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The best way to contact me is via email at


Ramadan, Y.H., Gu, A., Ross, N., Barr, M. M., Firestein, B. L., and O’Hagan, R. CCP1, a tubulin deglutamylase, increases survival of rodent spinal cord neurons following glutamate-induced excitotoxicity (in preparation)

Power, K.M., Akella, J.S., Gu, A., Walsh, J. D., Bellotti, S., Morash, M., Zhang, W., Ramadan, Y.H., Ross, N., Golden, A., Smith, H. E., Barr, M. M., O’Hagan, R. Mutation of NEKL-4/NEK10 and TTLL genes suppress neuronal ciliary degeneration caused by loss of CCPP-1 deglutamylase function (accepted PLOS Genetics, 2020)

O'Hagan, R., Silva, M., Nguyen, K. C. Q., Zhang, W., Bellotti, S., Ramadan, Y. H., Hall, D. H., and Barr, M. M. The Glutamylase TTLL-11 Regulates Ciliary Microtubule Structure, Polycystin Trafficking, and Extracellular Vesicle Release in C. elegans Sensory Neurons. Curr. Biol. (Epub Nov. 9, 2017)

Lockhead, D., Schwarz, E. M., O’Hagan, R, Bellotti, S., Krieg, M., Barr, M. M., Dunn, A. R., Sternberg, P. W., and Goodman, M. B. The tubulin repertoire of Caenorhabditis elegans sensory neurons and its context‑dependent role in process outgrowth. Mol. Biol. Cell 27:23 3717-3728, (2016)

O'Hagan R, Barr MM. Kymographic Analysis of Transport in an Individual Neuronal Sensory Cilium in Caenorhabditis elegans. Methods Mol Biol. 1454:107-22, (2016)

Chen, Y., Bharill, S., O’Hagan, R., Isacoff, E. Y., and Chalfie, M. MEC-10 and MEC-19 reduce the neurotoxicity of the MEC-4(d) DEG/ENaC channel in Caenorhabditis elegans. G3: Genes, Genomes, Genetics April 1, (6): 41121-1130 (2016)

Chen, Y, Bharill, S, Altun, Z, O'Hagan, R, Coblitz, B, Isacoff, EY, Chalfie, M.
C. elegans paraoxonase-like proteins control the functional expression of DEG/ENaC mechanosensory proteins. Mol Biol Cell. Mar 3, (2016)

O'Hagan, R. and Barr, M. M. A motor relay on ciliary tracks. An invited “News & Views” commentary in Nat Cell Biol. Nov 27;17(12):1517-1519 (2015)

O'Hagan, R., Wang, J. and Barr, M. M. Mating Behavior, Male Sensory Cilia, and Polycystins in C. elegans. An Invited Review in Semin Cell Dev Biol. Sept; 33C:25-33 (2014)

O'Hagan, R., and Barr, M. M. Regulation of Tubulin Deglutamylation Plays Cell-Specific Roles in the Function and Stability of Sensory Cilia. Worm July/Aug/Sept; 1 (3):155-159 (2012)

O'Hagan, R., Piasecki, B. P., Silva, M., Phirke, P., Nguyen, C. Q., Hall, D. H., Swoboda, P. and Barr, M. M. The Tubulin Deglutamylase CCPP-1 Regulates the Function and Stability of Sensory Cilia in C. elegans. Curr Biol. Oct. 25; 21 (20): 1685-1694 (2011)

Árnadóttir, J., O'Hagan, R., Chen, Y., Goodman, M.B., and Chalfie, M. The DEG/ENaC protein MEC-10 regulates the transduction channel complex in Caenorhabditis elegans touch receptor neurons. J Neurosci. Aug 31; 31 (35):12695-12704 (2011)

Vansteenhouse, H.C., Horton, Z.A., O'Hagan, R., Tai, M.H., Zipser, B. Phylogenetic conservation of the cell-type-specific Lan3-2 glycoepitope in Caenorhabditis elegans. Dev Genes Evol. Sep; 220 (3-4): 77-87 (2010)

Bounoutas, A, O'Hagan, R., Chalfie, M. The multipurpose 15-protofilament microtubules in C. elegans have specific roles in mechanosensation. Curr Biol. Aug 25; 19 (16): 1362-1367 (2009)

O’Hagan, R. and Chalfie, M. “Mechanosensation In C. elegans.” A chapter in a thematic volume from Elsevier Press entitled The Neurobiology of C. elegans, Vol. 69 (2006), edited by Eric Aamodt and Cindy Minor.

O’Hagan, R., Chalfie, M., and Goodman, M.B. The MEC-4 DEG/ENaC channel of Caenorhabditis elegans touch receptor neurons transduces mechanical signals. Nat Neurosci. 8 (1), 43-50 (2005)

Tobias, M.L., Bernard, C., O’Hagan, R., Horng, S., Rand, M., and Kelley, D. B. Vocal communication between male Xenopus laevis. Animal Behaviour, 67, Issue 2, 353-365 (2004)

Goodman, M.B., Ernstrom, G., Chelur, D.S., O’Hagan, R., Yao, C., and Chalfie, M. MEC-2 regulates C. elegans DEG/ENaC channels needed for mechanosensation. Nature 415, 1039-1042 (2002)

Chelur, D.S., Ernstrom, G., Goodman, M.B., Yao, C., Chen, L., O’Hagan, R. and Chalfie, M. The mechanosensory protein MEC-6 is a subunit of the C. elegans touch-cell degenerin channel. Nature 420, 669-673 (2002)


I focus on the molecular genetics of the nematode C. elegans, and am most interested in sensory neurobiology, the cytoskeleton, and intracellular transport.


Office Hours


10:00 am - 12:00 pm


10:00 am - 12:00 pm