Dr. Thomas H. MacRae

Cross-appointment Department of Pharmacology
BSc (Mt. Allison, 1970), MSc (Windsor, 1973)
PhD (Windsor, 1976)

  • Teaching & Research
  • Students' Research Topics
  • Graduates' Occupations
  • Publications
  • Links   
  • Teaching & Research
    cell/molecular biology, cell stress, diapause, embryo development, Artemia, molecular chaperones, small heat shock proteins, HSP70, LEA proteins, breast cancer.

    Desearch in my laboratory centers on the molecular analysis of diapause, a physiological state characterized by dormancy (suspended animation) and enhanced stress tolerance. Gene expression during initiation, maintenance and termination of diapause is investigated in embryos of the crustacean Artemia franciscana, as are the functions of molecular chaperones and LEA proteins during diapause. Stemming from these studies is the molecular analyses of small heat shock protein and HSP70 structure and function. Artemin, a novel ferritin homologue synthesized in diapausing Artemia embryos, and which exhibits chaperone activity, is examined by similar methodologies. We have recently adapted RNA interference (RNAi) methodologies to study the function of molecular chaperones and LEA proteins in vivo.
    My work, although fundamental in nature and with emphasis on basic questions in cell/molecular biology, has practical implications. Artemia is a live feed organism for larvae of commercially important aquaculture species and we examine diapause and heat shock proteins from this perspective. For example, the ability of HSP70 to prevent bacterial infection of Artemia is under study. The effects of nuisance insects in agriculture and forestry are exacerbated by their ability to enter diapause and survive adverse conditions, thus a more complete understanding of diapause may lead to environmentallly friendly control methods. Additionally, because small heat shock proteins are abundant in heart cells where they prevent ischemia/reperfusion injury during heart attack, and they are linked to various human diseases such as cancer and cataract, our research has medical significance. A current project entails investigations of HSP27 during breast cancer cell metastisis, collaborative work with Jonathan Blay, Pharmacology, Waterloo University.

    I have taught various aspects of eukaryotic cell biology and offered courses in this subject area at all levels of undergraduate and graduate instruction. My efforts as a teacher have been recognized by six teaching awards, including the Dalhousie Alumni Association Award for Excellence in Teaching, the Faculty of Science Award for Excellence in Teaching, the Rosemary Gill Award for Outstanding Service to Students, and a 3M Teaching Fellowship, presented by 3M Canada and the Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education.

    Examples of Students' Research Topics
    In the lab
    Honors BSc Students
    • Suriakarthiga Ganesan - Cold stress in Artemia adults.
    • Jinnie Kim - The diapause proteome in Artemia embryos.
    • Mike Gavelis - Characterization of p26 structure and function.
    • Sarah Buckle - Functional properties of artemin, a molecular chaperone from Artemia.
    • Katy Garant - Cloning of Artemia tubulin genes.
    • John Boudreau - Functional analysis of p26.

    Graduate Students

    • Jiabo Tan, Ph.D. - Characterization of heat shock factor 1 (HSF1) in Artemia franciscana.
    • Jantina Topopeus, M.Sc. - The role of LEA proteins in stress tolerance.
    • Heather Robbins, Ph.D. - Molecular characterization of diapause termination in Artemia.
    • Julia Tufts, M.Sc. - HSP27 synthesis in breast cancer cells and its effects on metastasis.
    • Allison King, Ph.D.- Diapause regulation and stress tolerance in Artemia embryos.
    • Svetla Bojikova-Fournier, Ph.D. - HSP70 isoform composition, synthesis and function.
    • Zhijun Qiu, Ph.D. - Gene expression during encystment and diapause of Artemia embryos.
    • Yan Hu, M.Sc. - Functional analysis of artemin.
    • Paul O'Connell, M.Sc. - Characterization of the microtubule proteome in Artemia franciscana.
    • Yu Sun, Ph.D. - Molecular characterization of p26, a small heat shock protein from Artemia.

    Some Graduates' Occupations
    • Zhijun Qiu - Postdoctoral fellow at NIH, Bethesda, Maryland.
    • Yu Sun - Postdoctoral fellow at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle.
    • Gillian Gass - Biology Instructor at Dalhousie University.
    • Mindy McCarville - Biology Instructor at Dalhousie University.
    • Krish Malaviarachchi - Medical doctor in Ontario.
    • Liansen Liu - Biotechnology research scientist in California.
    • Ping Liang - Associate Professor and Canada Research Chair, Brock University
    • Marvlyn Walling - Medical doctor in Ontario.


    Selected Publications

    King, A.M. and MacRae, T.H. 2012. The Small Heat Shock Protein p26 Aids Development of Encysting Artemia Embryos, Prevents Spontaneous Diapause Termination and Protects Against Stress. PLoS ONE 7(8): e43723.

    Baruah, K., Ranjan, J., Sorgeloos, P., MacRae, T.H. and Bossier, P. 2011. Priming the Prophenoloxidase System of Artemia franciscana by Heat Shock Proteins Protects Against Vibrio campbellii Challenge. Fish Shellfish Immunol. 31: 134-141.

    Sung, Y.Y. and MacRae, T.H. 2011. Heat Shock Proteins and Disease Control in Aquatic Organisms. Aquaculture Res. Develop. http://dx.doi.org/10.4172/2155-9546.S2-006. Published on line, 10 pages. (Review).

    Hu, Y., Bojikova-Fournier, S., King, A.M. and MacRae, T.H. 2011. The Structural Stability and Chaperone Activity of Artemin, a Ferritin Homologue from Diapause-Destined Artemia Embryos, Depend on Different Cysteine Residues. Cell Stress Chaperones. 16: 133-141.

    Baruah, K., Ranjan, J., Sorgeloos, P., MacRae, T.H.and Bossier, P. 2011. Priming the Prophenoloxidase System of Artemia franciscana by Heat Shock Proteins Against Vibrio campbellii Challenge. Fish Shellfish Immunol. 31: 134-141.

    Sung. Y.Y., MacRae, T.H., Sorgeloos, P. and Bossier, P. 2011. Stress Response for Disease Control in Aquaculture. Rev. Aquaculture 3: 120-137. (Review).

    Wu, Y. and MacRae, T.H. 2010. Truncation Attenuates Molecular Chaperoning and Apoptosis Inhibition by p26, a Small Heat Shock Protein from Artemia franciscana. Biochem. Cell Biol. 88: 937-946.

    Warner, A.H., Miroshnychenko, O., Kozarova, A., Vacratsis, P.O., MacRae, T.H., Kim, J. and Clegg, J.S. 2010. Evidence for Multiple Group 1 Late Embryogenesis Abundant Proteins in Encysted Embryos of Artemia and Their Organelles. J. Biochem. 148: 581-592.

    Robbins, H., Van Stappen, G ., Sorgeloos, P., Sung, Y.Y., MacRae, T.H. and Bossier, P. 2010. Diapause terminaton and development of encysted Artemia embryos: Roles for nitric oxide and hydrogen peroxide. J. Exp. Biol. 213: 1464-1470.

    Petrovick, M.S., Nargi, F.E., Towle, T., Hogan, K., Bohane, M., Wright, D.J., MacRae, T.H., Potts, M. and Helm, R.F. 2010. Improving the long-term storage of a mammalian biosensor cell line via genetic engineering. Biotech. Bioeng. 106: 474-481.

    MacRae, T.H. 2010. Gene expression, metabolic regulation and stress tolerance during diapause. Cell. Mol. Life Sci. 67: 2405-2424. (Review).

    Garant, K.A. and MacRae, T.H. 2009. Cloning and sequencing of tubulin cDNAs from Artemia franciscana: Evidence for differential expression of α- and ß-tubulin genes. Biochem. Cell Biol. 87: 989-997.

    Sung, Y.Y., Dhaene, T., Defoirdt, T., Boon, N., MacRae, T.H., Sorgeloos, P. and Bossier, P. 2009. Ingestion of bacteria over-producing Dnak attenuates Vibrio infection of Artemia franciscana larvae. Cell Stress & Chaperones 14: 603-609. (Cover).

    Sung, Y.Y., Ashame, M.F., Chen, S., MacRae, T.H., Sorgeloos, P. and Bossier, P. 2009. Feeding Artemia franciscana (Kellogg) larvae with bacterial heat shock protein protects from Vibrio campbellii (Baumann) infection. J. Fish Dis. 32: 675-685.

    Brun, N.T., Bricelj, V.M., MacRae, T.H. and Ross, N.W. 2009. Acquisition of thermotolerance in bay scallops, Argopecten irradians, via differential induction of heat shock proteins. J. Exp. Mar. Biol. Ecol. 371: 77-83.

    Qiu, Z. and MacRae, T.H. 2008. ArHsp22, a developmentally regulated small heat shock protein produced in diapause-destined Artemia embryos, is stress inducible in adults. FEBS J. 275: 3556-3566.

    Brun, N.T., Bricelj, V.M., MacRae, T.H. and Ross, N.W. 2008. Heat shock protein responses in thermally stressed bay scallops, Argopecten irradians, and sea scallops, Placopecten magellanicus. J. Exp. Mar. Biol. Ecol. 358: 151-162.

    Qiu, Z. and MacRae, T.H. 2008. ArHsp21, a developmentally regulated small heat shock protein synthesized in developing embryos of Artemia franciscana. Biochem. J. 411: 605-611.

    Sung, Y.Y., Pineda, C., MacRae, T.H., Sorgeloos, P. and Bossier, P. 2008. Exposure of gnotobiotic Artemia franciscana larvae to abiotic stress promotes heat shock protein 70 synthesis and enhances resistance to pathogenic Vibrio campbellii. Cell Stress & Chaperones 13: 59-66.

    Qiu, Z., Tsoi, S.C.M. and MacRae, T.H. 2007. Gene expression in diapause-destined embryos of the crustacean, Artemia franciscana. Mech. Develop. 124: 856-867.

    Qiu, Z. and MacRae, T.H. 2007. Developmentally regulated synthesis of p8, a stress-associated transcription cofactor in diapause-destined embryos of Artemia franciscana. Cell Stress & Chaperones 12: 255-264.

    Chen,T.,Villeneuve, T.S., Garant, K.A., Amons, R. and MacRae, T.H. 2007. Characterization of artemin, a ferritin homologue synthesized in Artemia embryos during encystment and diapause. FEBS J. 247: 1093-1101.

    Qiu, Z., Bossier, P., Wang, X., Bojikova-Fournier, S. and MacRae, T. H. 2006. Diversity, structure and expression of the gene for p26, a small heat shock protein from Artemia. Genomics 88: 230-240.

    Sun, Y., Bojikova-Fournier, S. and MacRae, T.H. 2006. Structural and functional roles for ß-strand 7 in the α-crystallin domain of p26, a polydisperse small heat shock protein from Artemia franciscana. FEBS J. 273: 1020-1034.

    Villeneuve, T.S., Ma, X., Sun, Y., Oulton, M.M., Oliver, A.E. and MacRae, T.H. 2006. Inhibition of apoptosis by p26: implications for small heat shock protein function during Artemia development. Cell Stress & Chaperones 11:72-80. (Cover).

    Ma, X., Jamil, K., MacRae, T.H., Clegg, J.S., Russell, J.M., Villeneuve, T.S., Euloth, M., Sun, Y., Crowe, J.H., Tablin, F. and Oliver, A.E. 2005. A small stress protein acts synergistically with trehalose to confer desiccation tolerance on mammalian cells. Cryobiology 51: 15-28.

    Sun, Y. and MacRae, T. H. 2005. Small heat shock proteins: molecular structure and chaperone function. Cell. Mol. Life Sci. 62: 2460-2476. (Review)

    MacRae, T. H. 2005. Diapause: diverse states of developmental and metabolic arrest. J. Biol. Res. 3: 3-14. (Review; cover).

    Sun, Y. and MacRae, T. H. 2005. The small heat shock proteins and their role in human disease. FEBS J. 272: 2613-2627. (Review).


    HALIFAX, NOVA SCOTIA | CANADA B3H 4R2 | +1 (902) 494-3515