Skip to main content

Scott B. Selleck

Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Image of Scott Selleck

About Me

Dr. Selleck earned his Bachelors Degree in Zoology from the University of Washington, and his MD and PhD degrees at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.  He was a postdoctoral fellow at both the Massachussets Institute of Technology and Brandeis University after which he was appointed as Assistant Professor at the University of Arizona, Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology.  Following tenure and promotion to Associate Professor he was recruited to serve as the Director of the Developmental Biology Center, Professor of Pediatrics and Genetics, Cell Biology and Development at the University of Minnesota, where he held the Martin Lenz Harrison Endowed Chair.  Professor Selleck served in this capacity from 2002-2009.  In 2009 Dr. Selleck accepted the position of Head of the Department of the Biochemistry & Molecular Biology Department at The Pennsylvania State University, where he served until 2017.  Currently, as a Professor at Penn State he continues his work on signaling networks affecting developmental and age-dependent neurodegenerative disorders, including lysosomal storage disease and Parkinson’s.



Department of University Committees

  • Faculty Mentoring Committee

  • Honors and Awards Committee

  • Peer Teaching Evaluation Committee



Research Summary

My laboratory studies how the nervous system is assembled and the molecular mechanisms of neurological disorders.  Some years ago these interests lead us to the discovery of the important contributions to patterning of the nervous system by a class of sugar-modified proteins, the heparan sulfate modified proteoglycans.  In the course of this work we showed that heparan sulfate modified proteins were vital for signaling throughout development of a number of critical growth factors, including the Wingless/Wnt and Bone Morphogenetic Protein families of secreted proteins.  More recent work on this class of cell surface and matrix molecules has shown they are vital for the regulation of autophagy and the responses of cells to a variety of stresses.  We have been able to change the structure and levels of the heparan sulfate chains to achieve increased resistance to a variety of stressors, and rescue cells from degeneration mediated by compromised surveillance of damaged mitochondria.

Dr. Selleck research figure

We have also had a long-standing interest in neurological disorders of children, including autism and the mucopolysaccharidoses (MPS), a class of lysosomal storage disease.  We have evidence that these childhood neurodegenerative disorders (MPS) caused by defects in membrane trafficking share molecular mechanisms with age-affected neurological disorders, such as Parkinsons’ Disease and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis.  Current work is focused on understanding those shared mechanisms and how regulation of autophagy can serve to affect the severity and onset of neurodegeneration.

Dr. Selleck Research figure



Honors and Awards

  • Phi Beta Kappa, University of Washington, 1979.
  • Medical Scientist Training Program (M.D./Ph.D.) NIH Fellowship, Washington University School of Medicine, 1981-1988.
  • Spencer T. and Ann W. Olin Medical Scientist Fellow, Washington University School of Medicine, 1989.
  • Life Sciences Research Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship, 1989-1992.
  • Alfred P. Sloane Foundation Research Fellowship for Young Investigators, 1994-96.
  • Martin Lenz Harrison Land Grant Chair in Pediatrics, University of Minnesota, 2002-2009.



Selected Publications

  • Nakato, H., Futch, T., and Selleck, S.B. (1995).  The  division abnormally delayed (dally) gene: a putative integral membrane proteoglycan required for cell division patterning during post-embryonic development of the nervous system in Drosophila.  Development 121:3687-3702.
  • Tsuda, M., Kamimura, K., Nakato, H., Archer, M., Staatz, W., Fox, B., Humphrey, M., Olson, S. Siegfried, E., Stam, L., and Selleck, S.B. (1999).  A cell surface proteoglycan, Dally, regulates Wingless signaling in Drosophila. Nature 400:276-280.
  • Balciuniene*, J. Feng*, N-P., Iyadurai, K. , Hirsch,B., Charnas,L., Bill,B., Staaf, J., Oseth L., Roberts, W., Avramopoulos, D., BorgÅ, Valle,D., Schimmenti,L., Selleck,, S.B. (2007). Recurrent 10q22-23 deletions: a genomic disorder on 10q associated with Cognitive and Behavioral Abnormalities AJHG 80(5):938-47. * contributed equally
  • Girirajan, S,RL Johnson, , F Tassone, J Balciuniene, N Katiyar, K Fox, C Baker, A Srikanth, K-H Yeoh, SJ Khoo, TB Nauth, R Hansen, M Ritchie, I Hertz-Picciotto, EE Eichler, IN Pessah, SB Selleck(2012).  Global increases in both common and rare copy number load associated with autism. Hum Mol Genet. 2013 Jul 15;22(14):2870-80. doi: 10.1093/hmg/ddt136. Epub 2013 Mar 27.
  • Kim, D.,  Volk, Girirajan, S., Pendergrass, S., Hall, M., Verma,, S.S., Schmidt, R.J., Hansen, R.., Ghoshf, D., Hertz-Picciotto, I., Ritchie, M.D.,and Selleck, S.B. (2017).  Interactions between air pollution exposure and copy number variation confer significant risk for autism. Autism Research. Apr 27. doi: 10.1002/aur.1799.
  • Reynolds-Peterson, C.E., Zhao†, N. Xu, J. Serman, T.M. Xu, J-l., and Selleck, S.B. (2017). Heparan Sulfate Proteoglycans Regulate Autophagy in Drosophila. Autophagy. Apr 12:1-18. doi: 10.1080/15548627.2017.1304867.
  • Reynolds-Peterson, C., Xu, J., Zhao, N., Cruse, C., Yonel, B., Trasorras, C., Toyoda, H., Kinoshita-Toyoda, A., Dobson, J., Schultheis, N., Jiang, M., and Selleck, S.B. (2019).  Heparan sulfate structure affects autophagy, lifespan, responses to oxidative stress, and cell degeneration in Drosophila parkin mutants.  G3: Genes Genomes Genetics (in press).