Ph.D. 1997, Hebrew University; Lecturer 2001
Department Head

Research Areas

In recent years a new concept has emerged which posits that the prenatal environment is a major determinant of chronic disease in adult life. Studies published in the last few years have highlighted the link between epigenetic processes, nutrition of the mother during pregnancy, nutrition during early childhood and long-term illness. It has been shown, both in vivo and in vitro, that periconceptional development is sensitive to environmental conditions and that changes in this environment have striking effects on the embryo that can have long-term effects on postnatal health and physiology. My lab uses Drosophila, focusing on the female reproductive tract, as a model to study mechanisms that regulate female fertility and reproductive aging, with an emphasis on how they influence newborn and adult health.

Elucidating the sequence of events leading to initiation of fertilization in the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster:

  • Genes involved in initiating fertilization
  • Mechanisms of egg activation
  • The role of female accessory glands gene products in fertilization
  • Sperm-egg interaction
  • Aging and Reproductive Success

Selected peer-reviewed publications

  1. Mack, P., Kapelnikov, A., Heifetz, Y. & Bender, M. (2006) Mating-responsive genes in reproductive tissues of female Drosophila melanogaster. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA. 103, 10358-10363.
  2. Pilpel, N., Nezer, I., Applebaum, S.W. & Heifetz, Y.  (2008) Mating increases trypsin in female Drosophila hemolymph. Insect Biochem. Mol. Biol. 38, 320-330.
  3. Kapelnikov, A., Zelinger, E., Gottlieb, Y., Rhrissorrakrai, K., Gunsalus, K.C. & Heifetz, Y. (2008) Mating Induces an immune response and developmental switch in the Drosophila oviduct. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA. 105, 13912-13917.
  4. Kapelnikov, A., Rivlin, P.K., Hoy, R.R. & Heifetz, Y. (2008) Tissue remodeling: a mating-induced differentiation program for the Drosophila oviduct. BMC Dev. Biol. 8, 114.
  5. Heifetz, Y., & Rivlin, P.K. (2010) Beyond the mouse model: using Drosophila as a model for sperm interaction with the female reproductive tract. Theriogenology 73, 723-739.
  6. Carmel, I., Shomron, N., Heifetz, Y. (2012) Does base-pairing strength plays a role in micro RNA repression? RNA 18, 1947-1956.
  7. Heifetz, Y., Lindner, M., Garini, Y., & Wolfner, M.F. (2014) Mating regulates neuromodulator ensembles at nerve termini innervating the Drosophila reproductive tract. Curr Biol 24, 731–737.
  8. Heifetz, Y., & Wolfner, M.F. (2014) Mating regulates reproductive tract neuromodulators. Molecular Reproduction and Development 81, 567.
  9. Heifetz, Y., & Wolfner, M.F. (2015) Neuronal nitric oxide synthase in the lower reproductive tract of female Drosophila. Mol Reprod Dev 82:265.
  10. Carmel I., Tram U., Heifetz Y. (2016) Mating induces developmental changes in the insect
    female reproductive tract. Curr Opin Insect Sci 13, 106-1013.
  11. Avila F.W., Sanchez-Lopez J.A., McGlaughon J.L., Raman S., Wolfner M.F., Heifetz Y. (2016) Nature and functions of glands and ducts in the Drosophila reproductive tract. In: Extracellular Composite Matrices in Arthropods. Edited by Ephraim Cohen, Bernard Moussian. Springer, International Publishers, Switzerland, pp. 411-444.
  12. Elgart M., Stern S., Salton O., Gnainsky Y., Heifetz Y., Soen Y. (2016) Impact of gut
    microbiota on the fly’s germ line. Nature communication 7, 11280. 
  13. Heifetz Y., & Tram U. (2017) Oogenesis, final oocyte maturation & ovulation, Insects. Encyclopedia of Reproduction, 2nd Edition, Vol 6. Elsevier.