Faculty Directory

Dr. Walter Steiner

Dr.  Walter Steiner

Associate Professor

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Dr. Steiner joined the faculty in 2004. He received his Ph.D. in molecular, cellular, and developmental biology from University of Colorado and was a postdoctoral Fellow at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center from 1998-2004. He currently teaches Introductory Biology, Cell Biology, Bioanalytical Techniques and laboratory, Senior Seminar, and Genetics and laboratory II.

His research interests are aimed primarily at understanding the factors determining the location of recombination hot spots.  The cells of humans and other sexually reproducing organisms contain two copies of each chromosome, one from each parent. These chromosome copies, or homologs, contain similar but not always identical genes. During meiosis (the process of forming gametes), genetic information is exchanged between maternal and paternal homologs through a process called homologous recombination. Homologous recombination is essential for ensuring that each cell receives the correct number of chromosomes it is also a major mechanism of repairing DNA damage. When this process fails, chromosomal rearrangements or other mutations leading to cancer can occur. Research in his lab has revealed that a number of simple nucleotide sequence motifs can create recombination hot spots. They are now characterizing several of those motifs and testing whether they act as binding sites for trans-acting factors. They are also testing whether hot spot motifs discovered in S. pombe are also active in the distantly related budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. If so, it would suggest the exciting possibility that those motifs are active in many organisms, including humans.

Grants, Honors and Fellowships

  • 2007-2012 National Institutes of Health-AREA grant award.
  • 2005-2012 Niagara University Research Council Summer Stipends.
  • 2005-2012 Niagara University Research Council Research Support Grants.
  • 2004-2007 Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Special Fellowship.
  • 1999-2002 National Institutes of Health-National Research Service Award.


• Steiner, W.W. and Steiner, E.M. 2012. Fission yeast hotspot sequence motifs are also active in budding yeast. PLoS One, 7: e53090. (Article selected for F1000Prime, indicating an article of special significance in its field.)

•Steiner, W.W., Davidow, P.A. and Bagshaw, A.T.M. 2011. Important characteristics of sequence-specific recombination hotspots. Genetics, 187: 385-396.

• Pinto, M.S. McGahan, M.E., Steiner, W.W., and Priefer, R. 2011. The use of the pseudo-polyelectrolyte; poly(4-vinylphenol); in multilayered films as an antimicrobial surface coating. Colloids and Surfaces A: Physicochemical and Engineering Aspects, 377: 182-186.

• Ingalsbe, M.I., St, Dennis, J.D, McGahan, M.E., Steiner, W.W., and Priefer, R. 2009. Development of a novel expression, ZIMAX/KZI, for determination of the counter-anion effect on the antimicrobial activity of tetrabutylammonium salts. Bioorganic Med. Chem. Lett. 19: 4984-4987.

• Steiner, W.W., Steiner, E.M., Girvin, A.R., and Plewik, L.E. 2009. Novel nucleotide sequence motifs that create meiotic recombination hotspots. Genetics 182: 459-469. • Hirota, K., Steiner, W.W., Shibata, T., and Ohta, K.; 2007.; Chromatin configuration at natural meiotic recombination hot spots in fission yeast.; Eukaryotic Cell 6: 2072-2080.

• Steiner, W.W. and Smith, G.R.; 2005.; Natural Meiotic Recombination Hotspots in the S. pombe Genome Successfully Predicted from the Simple Sequence Motif M26.; Mol. Cell Biol 25: 9054-9062.

• Steiner, W.W. and Smith, G.R.; 2005.; Optimizing the Nucleotide Sequence of a Meiotic Recombination Hotspot in Schizosaccharomyces pombe.; Genetics 169: 1973-1983.;

• Farah, J.A., Cromie, G., Davis, L., Steiner, W.W., and Smith, G.R.; 2005.; Activation of an Alternative, Rec12-Independent Pathway of Meiotic Recombination in the Absence of Rad2 (FEN-1 Homolog).; Genetics 171: 1499-1511.

• Farah, J.A. Cromie, G, Steiner, W.W., and Smith, G.R.; 2005.; A novel recombination pathway initiated by the MRN complex eliminates palindromes during meiosis in Schizosaccharomyces pombe.; Genetics 169: 1261-1274.

• Steiner, W.W., Schreckhise, R.W., and Smith, G.R.; 2002.; Meiotic DNA breaks at the S. pombe recombination hot spot M26.; Mol. Cell 9: 847-855.

• Young, J.A., Schreckhise, R.W., Steiner, W.W., and Smith, G.R.; 2002.; Meiotic recombination remote from prominent DNA breaks sites in S. pombe.; Mol. Cell 9: 253-263.

• Steiner, W.W., Liu, G., Donachie, W.D, and Kuempel, P.L.; 1999.; The cytoplasmic domain of FtsK protein is required for resolution of chromosome dimers.; Mol. Microbiol. 31: 579-583.

• Steiner, W.W. and Kuempel, P.L.; 1998.; Cell division is required for resolution of dimer ;;; chromosomes at the dif locus of Escherichia coli.; Mol. Microbiol. 27: 257-268.

• Steiner, W.W. and Kuempel, P.L.; 1998.; Sister chromatid exchange frequencies in Escherichia coli analyzed by recombination at the dif resolvase site.; J. Bacteriol. 180: 6269-6275.

• Tasset, D.M., Kubik, M.F., and Steiner, W.W.; 1997.; Oligonucleotide inhibitors of human thrombin that bind distinct epitopes.; J. Mol. Biol. 272: 688-698.

Current Research

My general interest is in homologous recombination, particularly in the factors determining the location of so-called recombination hotspots. Homologous recombination results in the exchange of genetic information between homologous chromosomes during meiosis. Those exchange events can occur at multiple sites along the length of chromosomes, but they occur primarily at recombination hotspots. Research in my lab has shown that specific nucleotide sequences determine the location of some hotspots. We are currently characterizing those sequences, which we speculate may be responsible for most, if not all, meiotic recombination hotspots.

Educational Background

B.S. Biology, 1991, University of California, Irvine. Ph.D. Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology, 1998, University of Colorado, Boulder.

Current Involvement

Board member for Eastern Colleges Science Conference. Current or former member of the American Society of Microbiology, the Genetics Society of America, the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Rochester Academy of Sciences. Member of Cub Scouts and the Youngstown Volunteer Fire Department.