Derek Prosser

Derek Prosser, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

Trani Life Sciences Building, 1000 W. Cary St., room 315


  • Postdoctoral (Johns Hopkins), 2008-2017
  • Ph.D., Neuroscience (University of Ottawa), 2008
  • B.Sc., Honors Physiology (University of Ottawa), 2003
  • B.Sc., Biochemistry (University of Ottawa), 2002

Research Interests

The Prosser 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. Research in the lab uses yeast genetics to study trafficking within the endocytic pathway, with particular emphasis on understanding a newly-identified pathway for clathrin-independent endocytosis that requires the actin-modulating GTPase, Rho1. 

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 the Prosser lab. The group has developed yeast models of ALS that recapitulate the disease at a cellular level, and 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.

Research Funding

The Prosser lab's 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. Work on amyotrophic lateral sclerosis has been funded by an investigator-initiated Starter Grant from the ALS Association (ALSA 462).

Select Publications

  • Stump AL, Rioux DJ, Albright R, Melki GL, Prosser DC. (2023) Yeast models of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis type 8 mimic phenotypes seen in mammalian cells expressing mutant VAPBP56S. Biomolecules 13(7):1147.
  • 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, 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.
  • 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.


  • BIOL 310: Genetics
  • BIOL 580: Eukaryotic Biotechnology