Derek Prosser

Assistant Professor


Derek Prosser completed undergraduate studies in Biochemistry and Physiology at the University of Ottawa. He completed a doctorate in Neuroscience at the University of Ottawa in 2008, where he studied links between membrane and cytoskeletal regulation in Johnny Ngsee's lab. From there, he joined Beverly Wendland's group at John Hopkins as a postdoctoral fellow to learn yeast genetics. During this time, he used baker's yeast to study endocytosis, or internalization of protein and membrane from the cell surface. Derek's work in the Wendland lab led to their discovery of a new, clathrin-independent endocytic pathway that his lab continues to study. 


Postdoctoral Studies, The Johns Hopkins University

Ph.D. (Neuroscience), University of Ottawa

B.Sc. (Physiology), University of Ottawa

B.Sc. (Biochemistry), University of Ottawa

My Teaching Interest

I teach courses in cell and molecular biology at the undergraduate and graduate levels, and I place a lot of emphasis in integrating the theory of these fields with current research and discovery. I am especially passionate about bringing research from faculty at VCU Biology into the classroom, and one way that I do this is by offering a lab course (BIOZ 391) where students participate in cutting-edge research during a semester-long project aimed at finding new genes involved in membrane regulation. 

Courses Taught:

BIOL 310 - Genetics

BIOZ 391 - Genetic Screens: Pathways to Discovery in Biology

BIOL 580 - Eukaryotic Biotechnology 

My Research Interest

My lab studies the molecular mechanisms of cargo sorting, vesicular trafficking, and cytoskeletal dynamics in eukaryotic cells. When new proteins are synthesized, they need to be sorted and transported to the correct subcellular compartment in order to function. This is achieved through vesicular traffic, where cargo molecules are packaged into vesicles that bud from a donor compartment and fuse with the target organelle. During this process, the cytoskeleton provides structural support to facilitate vesicle formation, as well as transport through the cytoplasm. We use yeast genetics to study trafficking within the endocytic pathway, with particular emphasis on understanding a newly-identified pathway for clathrin-independent endocytosis. 

Mutations in trafficking-related genes are linked to a variety of diseases in humans, including neurodegenerative disorders such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS; Lou Gehrig's disease), which is an additional focus of research in my lab. I have developed yeast models of ALS that recapitulate the disease at a cellular level, and we use these as tools to identify genes that can suppress ALS-related phenotypes in hopes of identifying potential targets for development of novel therapeutic approaches. 

My Research Funding

Our work on endocytosis is currently funded by a career award from the National Science Foundation (MCB 1942395), and has also been supported by a VCU COVID-19 Rapid Research Funding Opportunity grant. Our work on amyotrophic lateral sclerosis has been funded by an investigator-initiated Starter Grant from the ALS Association (ALSA 462).

Representative Publications

Hoban K, Lux SY, Poprawski J, Zhang Y, Shepherdson J, Castiñera PG, Pesari S, Yao T, Prosser DC, Norris C, Wendland B. (2020) ESCRT-dependent protein sorting is required for the viability of yeast clathrin-mediated endocytosis mutants. Traffic 21(6):430-50.

Apel AR, Hoban K, Chuartzman S, Tonikian R, Sidhu S, Schuldiner M, Wendland B, Prosser D. (2017) Syp1 regulates the clathrin-mediated and clathrin-independent endocytosis of multiple cargo proteins through a novel sorting motif. Mol Biol Cell 28(18):2434-48.

Prosser DC, Wrasman K, Woodard TK, O’Donnell AF, Wendland B. (2016) Applications of pHluorin for quantitative, kinetic and high-throughput analysis of endocytosis in budding yeast. J Vis Exp (116):54587.

Prosser DC, Wendland B. (2016) DePFth perception in clathrin-mediated endocytosis. Dev Cell 37(5):387-8.

Prosser DC, Pannunzio AE, Brodsky JL, Thorner J, Wendland B, O’Donnell AF. (2015) α-arrestins participate in cargo selection for both clathrin-independent and clathrin-mediated endocytosis. J Cell Sci 128(22):4220-34.

Alvaro CG, O’Donnell AF, Prosser DC, Augustine AA, Goldman A, Brodsky JL, Cyert MS, Wendland B, Thorner J. (2014) Specific α-arrestins negatively regulate Saccharomyces cerevisiae pheromone response by down-modulating the G-protein-coupled receptor Ste2. Mol Cell Biol 34(14):2660-81.

Lang MJ, Martinez-Marquez JY, Prosser DC, Ganser LR, Buelto D, Wendland B, Duncan MC. (2014) Glucose starvation inhibits autophagy via vacuolar hydrolysis and induces plasma membrane internalization by down-regulating recycling. J Biol Chem 289(24):16736-47.

Prosser DC, Wendland B. (2012) Conserved roles for yeast Rho1 and mammalian RhoA GTPases in clathrin-independent endocytosis. Small GTPases 3(4):229-35.

Prosser DC, Drivas, TG, Maldonado-Báez L, Wendland B. (2011) Existence of a novel clathrin-independent endocytic pathway in yeast that depends on Rho1 and formin. J Cell Biol 195(4):657-71.

Prosser DC, Tran D, Schooley A, Wendland B, Ngsee JK. (2010) A novel, retromer-independent role for sorting nexins 1 and 2 in RhoG-dependent membrane remodeling. Traffic 11(10):1347-62.

Prosser DC, Whitworth K, Wendland B. (2010) Quantitative analysis of endocytosis with cytoplasmic pHluorin chimeras. Traffic 11(9):1141-50.

Prosser DC, Tran D, Gougeon PY, Verly C, Ngsee JK. (2008) FFAT rescues VAPA-mediated inhibition of ER-to-Golgi transport and VAPB-mediated ER aggregation. J Cell Sci 121(18):3052-61.


Affiliate Assistant Professor, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (VCU)

Affiliate Faculty, Molecular Biology and Gentics (VCU)


VCU biology professor receives $1.3M grant to study membrane transport pathways in yeast.

VCU study exploring possibility to halt the coronavirus' infection cycle.


        Derek Prosser

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