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Professor John Sparrow



2000 - Professor Department of Biology, University of York
1993 - 2000 Reader Department of Biology, University of York
1991 - 1993 Senior Lecturer Department of Biology, University of York
1973 - 1991 Lecturer Department of Biology, University of York
1971 - 1973 Research Associate Department of Biology, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Va
1971 DPhil School of Biological Sciences, University of Sussex
1968 BSc Biology University of Sussex       



I study muscle differentiation, disease and regulation of contraction using the Drosophila flight and jump muscles as model systems. My lab use molecular genetics (including transgenics), cell biology and biochemistry to determine the molecular details of these processes. Major goals are to understand the differentiation (assembly) of the muscle sarcomere and molecular details of the regulation of muscle contraction by calcium and the troponin-tropomyosin complex. We use the flight muscles as a good system for genetic, cell biological, biochemical and biophysical approaches to muscle biology as they are large (relatively!) to study human mutations that cause congenital myopathies.


That in Drosophila muscle human actin mutants show all aspects of the human disease, and one late-onset disease mutant is caused by reduced mechanical strength of sarcomeres

Research group(s)

Honorary Fellow p/t 50% Dr Adam Middleton Cell biology of muscle development/function
Visiting Professor f/t Prof Belinda Bullard PI. Molecular biology of insect muscle proteins and their assembly into the sarcomere


Selected publications

Sparrow, J.C. and Schöck,  F. (2009) "The initial steps of myofibril assembly: integrins pave the way" Nature Reviews Molecular Cell Biology 10, 293-298.

Laing N.G., Dye D.E., Wallgren-Pettersson C., Richard G., Monnier N., Lillis S., Winder T.L., Lochmuller H., Graziano C., Mitrani-Rosenbaum S., Twomey D., Sparrow J.C., Beggs A.H., Nowak K.J. (2009) Mutations and polymorphisms of the skeletal muscle alpha-actin gene (ACTA1). Human Mutation 30, 1267-1277.

Haigh S.E., Salvi S.S., Sevdali M., Stark M., Goulding D., Clayton J.D., Bullard B., Sparrow, J.C., Nongthomba U. (2010) Drosophila indirect flight muscle specific Act88F actin mutants as a model system for studying congenital myopathies of the human ACTA1 skeletal muscle actin gene. Neuromuscular Disorders. 20, 363-374.

Vikhorev P.G., Vikhoreva N.N., Cammarato A.C., Sparrow J.C. (2010). In vitro motility of native thin filaments from Drosophila indirect flight muscles reveals that the held-up-2 TnI mutation affects calcium activation. J. Muscle Research and Cell Motility 31(3), 171-179.

External activities


  • Chair, Steering Committee, BBSRC Drosophila IGF programme

Editorial duties

  • Editorial Board : Journal Muscle Research and Cell Motility

Professor John Sparrow

Contact details

John Sparrow
Department of Biology (Area 9)
University of York
YO10 5DD

Tel: 01904 328675