Dr. Audrey Napier

Dr. Audrey Napier
Professor of Biology
Dept. of Biological Sciences
Phone: 334-229-4467

Dr. Audrey Napier, Associate Professor of Biology, research interests focuses on the molecular interactions that take place during development, organogenesis or regeneration. Currently the focus is examining the molecular interactions that take place during thymus organogenesis. The thymus is an organ that plays a critical role in establishing the immune system of different organisms. It develops from a single primordium that also gives rise to the parathyroid gland. The potential for the thymic rudiment to differentiate into two separately distinctive tissues, serving vastly different purposes, indicates that different molecular pathways are involved in creating these distinctions. Although some genetic markers have been identified as being crucial for thymus development, the interactions of these markers with each other in molecular pathways have yet to be discerned. Two important proteins involved in thymus organogenesis are the products of the Hoxa3 gene and the Pax1 gene. Mice that are homozygous mutant for the Hoxa3 gene (Hoxa3 -/-) do not form a thymus and usually die before or soon after birth. Mice that are homozygous mutant for Pax1 (Pax1 -/-) form a thymus; however, the size of the thymus is smaller than normal. In addition, the number of thymocytes present in the thymus of the Pax1 -/- mutant is decreased.

The goal of this study is to elucidate some of the molecular mechanisms that contribute to normal thymus development. The focus of this project will target two specific areas. First, the interaction between Hoxa3 and Pax1 products will be assayed to determine if the interaction is direct regulation of the Pax1 gene by the Hoxa3 protein. Furthermore, information on the region responsible for regulating the Pax1 gene will be explored. Understanding the mechanism of interaction of these two genes should provide some insight into how thymus organogenesis occurs.


  • Thompson, R.N, McMillon, R, Napier, A. and Wekesa, K.S. 2007. Pregnancy block by MHC Class I peptides is mediated via the production of inositol 1,4,5 trisphosphate in the mouse vomeronasal organ. Journal of Experimental Biology (210): 1406-1412.
  • Thompson, R.N, Napier, A. and Wekesa, K.S. 2007. Chemosensory cues from the lacrimal and preputial glands stimulate production of IP3 in the vomeronasal organ and aggression in male mice. Physiology & Behavior (90): 797-802.
  • Thompson, R.N, Napier, A. and Wekesa, K.S. 2006. Attenuation of the production of inositol 1,4,5- trisphosphate in the mouse vomeronasal organ by antibodies against the aq/11 subfamily of G-proteins. Chem. Senses (31): 613-619.
  • Wekesa, K. S., Thompson, R., Robertson, B. K., Napier, A. 2004. Sex specific responses to urinary chemicals by the mouse vomeronasal organ. Chemical Senses. 29(9):749-54.
  • Wekesa, K.S, Stephanie Miller and Audrey Napier. 2003. Involvement of Gq/11 in the signal transduction pathway of the mammalian vomeronasal organ. Journal of Experimental Biology (206):827-832.