Centre for Discovery Brain Sciences
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Dr Lynn Powell

My work focuses on the role of posttranslational modification in the regulation of transcriptional activation by the proneural proteins.

Lynn Powell

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

  • Hugh Robson Building
  • 15 George Square
  • Edinburgh EH8 9XD

Contact details

Personal profile

  • Present: Senior Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Professor Andrew Jarman’s lab, Centre for Integrative Physiology, University of Edinburgh
  • 1990-2000: Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Professor Noreen Murray’s lab, Institute of Cell and Molecular Biology, University of Edinburgh
  • 1986-1990: PhD, Professor Roger Pain’s laboratory, Department of Biochemistry, University of Newcastle upon Tyne


The Drosophila proneural proteins are basic helix-loop-helix transcription factors essential for the specification of neural precursors in the peripheral nervous system. Mammalian homologues also have key roles in neural development. For example, Atoh1 is essential for the formation of inner ear hair cells while Atoh7 is essential for retinal ganglion cell development.

In addition Atoh1 has recently been shown to be a tumour suppressor gene. My work focuses on dissecting the molecular mechanisms governing interactions between the proneural proteins and regulatory factors with a particular focus on posttranslational modification by Small Ubiquitin-like Modifier (SUMO).

We have recently shown that SUMOylation of the zinc finger protein Senseless, a proneural protein coactivator, promotes the function of the proneural-Senseless complex.


  • The Wellcome Trust


  • Dr Angela Chen, Institute of Biomedical Sciences, National Sun Yat-Sen University, Kaohsiung, Taiwan
  • Professor Catherina and Dr Thomas Becker, Centre for Neuroregeneration, University of Edinburgh
  • Dr Sally Lowell, Centre for Regenerative Medicine, University of Edinburgh

Selected publications

Powell, L. (2013). Analysis of DNA-protein interactions using PAGE: band-shift assays. Methods Mol Biol. 1054: 237-51.

Powell, L.M., Chen, A., Huang, Y.C., Wang, P.Y., Kemp, S.E. and Jarman, A.P. (2012). The SUMO pathway promotes bHLH proneural factor activity via a direct effect on the zinc finger protein, Senseless. Mol. Cell. Biol. 32: 2849-2860.

Powell, L.M. & Jarman, A.P. (2008). Context dependence of proneural bHLH proteins. Curr. Opin. Genet. Dev. 18 (5) : 411-7.

Powell, L.M., Deaton, A.M., Wear, M.A. and Jarman, A.P. (2008). Specificity of Atonal and Scute bHLH factors: analysis of cognate E box binding sites and the influence of Senseless. Genes to Cells 13 (9): 915-29.

Powell, L.M., zur Lage, P.I., Prentice, D.R.A., Senthinathan, B. and Jarman, A.P. (2004). The proneural proteins Atonal and Scute regulate neural target genes through different E-box binding sites. Mol. Cell. Biol. 24, Issue 21 (9517-26).

Lynn Powell publications (pdf)