Marilee Benore Research

Aided by numerous undergraduates, the lab investigates vitamin transport using Riboflavin Binding Protein (RBP)  in the hen as a model. 

Our lab studies riboflavin and Riboflavin Binding protein (RBP). RBP is a transport protein found in all oviparous (egg-laying) species, carrying riboflavin needed for embryonic development in organisms such as the chick or baby turtle. RBP has also been postulated to exist in the human eye, perhaps assisting in the metabolic energy production for vision. Riboflavin is active as the coenzyme forms FMN and FADH2.

Flock of chickens

We (our lab) are stewards for a mutant flock of chickens- they cannot synthesize the RBP and the embryos die after the thirteenth day of egg incubation. Discovered in the 1950s, the flock has been maintained over many years as an excellent model of vitamin transport and embryo development. (We can inject riboflavin into the egg to rescue it.)

due to the lack of riboflavin, the mutant egg white is completely transparent, not the pale yellow-green color typically observed in raw egg white.

As can be observed in this photo, due to the lack of riboflavin, the mutant egg white is completely transparent, not the pale yellow-green color typically observed in raw egg white.

Riboflavin binding protein

Several projects are ongoing:

  • We are currently reexamining the genome of the mutant flock to determine if other DNA mutations exist.
  • Our collaboration with Prof. Abramyan investigates the effect of the riboflavin deficiency on embryo development.
  • We are developing new methods to detect riboflavin and biomarkers in at-risk populations who might suffer from diseases caused by vitamin deficiency. This is in collaboration with Profs Smith and Marincean. As individuals in the USA and abroad suffer from this deficiency, there is a critical global need to ensure proper nutrition for short and long term health.  
  • We are probing the stability of RBP structure and function over time.


Persistence of Women in STEM

Professor Benore is also conducting research on the persistence of women in STEM.


Our research has been funded by the National Institutes of Health, the American Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, corporate funding, and the University of Michigan Rackham, OVPR and Dearborn Office of Research.

UM-Dearborn students have opportunities to study abroad in short- or long-term projects, both credit and non-credit experimental programs.

Marilee Benore

Professor Benore traveled to France with faculty and students to study ancient bones in 2014. In this photo she poses with suit of armor on display at the study site.

In 2016 and 2017 she accompanied students on medical mission trips to Honduras, as part of Global Brigades Programs. In the Honduran communities students participated in medical/dental/optical clinics, as part of the medical brigades. Following the clinical work, the group then spent the next several days helping construct water and sanitation facilities for rural families, as part of the public health brigades. 

Department of Natural Sciences

114 - Science Faculty Center
4901 Evergreen Road
Dearborn, MI 48128
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Phone: 313-593-5277
Fax: 313-593-4937