piali senguptaPiali Sengupta, Ph.D.

Professor of Biology
Neurogenetics of behavior and development

Bryn Mawr College, A.B.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Ph.D.
University of California, San Francisco, Postdoc

contact information
Sengupta Lab website

We are interested in identifying the genetic, molecular, and neuronal mechanisms by which animals sense and translate environmental cues such as chemicals and temperature into specific changes in behavior and development. Understanding the regulation of sensory signaling and signal processing is of significant biomedical importance since misregulation of these pathways leads to many neurological and behavioral disorders.

Ultrastructure of the sensory endings of the AFD thermosensory neuron. From Doroquez, Berciu et al, eLife 2014.

Current research in our lab focuses on three main areas using the powerful and elegant C. elegans model organism. We use a multifaceted strategy combining genetic, genomic, and molecular tools, high resolution analyses of ultrastructure and in vivo protein trafficking, quantitative behavioral assays, and in vivo calcium imaging to explore the following issues.

  • We are investigating the molecular and cellular mechanisms that define the unique morphological and functional properties of sensory cilia, cellular antennae that house all signaling molecules, and represent the site of primary sensory signal transduction.
  • We are identifying the genes and neurons required for the response of C. elegans to pheromones, small molecules used in chemical communication within a species.
  • We are studying the molecular, neuronal and circuit mechanisms required for the remarkable experience-dependent responses of C. elegans to thermal stimuli.

Selected recent publications:

Cornils, A., A. K. Maurya, L. Tereshko, J. Kennedy, A. G. Brear, V. Prahlad, O. E. Blacque and P. Sengupta (2016). "Structural and Functional Recovery of Sensory Cilia in C. elegans IFT Mutants upon Aging." PLoS Genet 12(12): e1006325.

Neal, S. J., J. Park, D. DiTirro, J. Yoon, M. Shibuya, W. Choi, F. C. Schroeder, R. A. Butcher, K. Kim and P. Sengupta (2016). "A Forward Genetic Screen for Molecules Involved in Pheromone-Induced Dauer Formation in Caenorhabditis elegans." G3 (Bethesda) 6(5): 1475-1487.

Nechipurenko, I. V., A. Olivier-Mason, A. Kazatskaya, J. Kennedy, I. G. McLachlan, M. G. Heiman, O. E. Blacque and P. Sengupta (2016). "A Conserved Role for Girdin in Basal Body Positioning and Ciliogenesis." Dev Cell 38(5): 493-506.

Sims, J. R., M. C. Ow, M. A. Nishiguchi, K. Kim, P. Sengupta and S. E. Hall (2016). "Developmental programming modulates olfactory behavior in C. elegans via endogenous RNAi pathways." Elife 2016; 5: e11642.

Takeishi, A., Y. V. Yu, V. M. Hapiak, H. W. Bell, T. O'Leary and P. Sengupta (2016). "Receptor-type Guanylyl Cyclases Confer Thermosensory Responses in C. elegans." Neuron 90(2): 235-244.

Neal, S. J., A. Takeishi, M. P. O'Donnell, J. Park, M. Hong, R. A. Butcher, K. Kim and P. Sengupta (2015). "Feeding state-dependent regulation of developmental plasticity via CaMKI and neuroendocrine signaling." Elife 2015; 4: e10110.

Brear, A. G., J. Yoon, M. Wojtyniak and P. Sengupta (2014). "Diverse Cell Type-Specific Mechanisms Localize G Protein-Coupled Receptors to Caenorhabditis elegans Sensory Cilia." Genetics 197(2): 667-684.

Goodman, M. B., M. Klein, S. Lasse, L. Luo, I. Mori, A. Samuel, P. Sengupta and D. Wang (2014). "Thermotaxis navigation behavior." WormBook: 2014 Feb 20:1-10.

Ryan, D. A., R. M. Miller, K. Lee, S. J. Neal, K. A. Fagan, P. Sengupta and D. S. Portman (2014). "Sex, age, and hunger regulate behavioral prioritization through dynamic modulation of chemoreceptor expression." Curr Biol 24(21): 2509-2517.

Schild, L. C., L. Zbinden, H. W. Bell, Y. V. Yu, P. Sengupta, M. B. Goodman and D. A. Glauser (2014). "The balance between cytoplasmic and nuclear CaM kinase-1 signaling controls the operating range of noxious heat avoidance." Neuron 84(5): 983-996.

Sengupta, P. and M. M. Barr (2014). "New insights into an old organelle: meeting report on biology of cilia and flagella." Traffic 15(6): 717-726.

Yu, Y. V., H. W. Bell, D. A. Glauser, S. D. Van Hooser, M. B. Goodman and P. Sengupta (2014). "CaMKI-Dependent Regulation of Sensory Gene Expression Mediates Experience-Dependent Plasticity in the Operating Range of a Thermosensory Neuron." Neuron 84(5): 919-926.

Doroquez, D.B.*, Berciu, C.*, Anderson, J.R., Sengupta, P*. and Nicastro, D*. (2014) "A high-resolution morphological and ultrastructural map of anterior sensory cilia and glia in C. elegans." eLife 2014;3:e01948.

Wojtnyiak, M., O’Halloran, D. and Sengupta, P. (2013) "Cell- and subunit-specific mechanisms of CNG channel ciliary targeting and localization in C. elegans." J. Cell Sci. 126: 4381-4395.

Hall, S.E, Chirn, G-W., Lau, N.C. and Sengupta, P. (2013) "RNAi pathways contribute to developmental history-dependent phenotypic plasticity in C. elegans." RNA. 19:306-319.

Olivier-Mason, A., Wojtyniak, M., Bowie, R.V., Blacque, O.E., and Sengupta, P. (2013) "Transmembrane protein OSTA-1 shapes cell type-specific sensory cilia morphology via regulation of intracellular membrane trafficking in C. elegans." Development,140: 1560-1572.

Sengupta, P. and Garrity. P. (2013) "Sensing temperature." Curr. Biol. 23: R304-307.

Neal, S.J., Kim, K. and Sengupta, P. (2013) "Quantitative assessment of pheromone-induced dauer formation in C. elegans." Methods Mol Biol.1068:273-283.

Sengupta, P. (2013) "The belly rules the nose: feeding state-dependent modulation of peripheral chemosensory responses." Curr Opin Neurobiol. 23: 68-75.

Jang, H.*, Kim, K.*, Neal, S.J., Macosko, E., Kim, D., Butcher, R.A., Zeiger, D.M., Bargmann, C.I.* and Sengupta, P.* (2012) "Neuromodulatory state and sex specify alternative behaviors through antagonistic synaptic pathways in C. elegans." Neuron 75:585-92.

Kaplan OI*, Doroquez DB*, Cevik S, Bowie RV, Clarke L, Sanders AA, Kida K, Rappoport JZ, Sengupta P* and Blacque OE.* (2012) "Endocytosis genes facilitate protein and membrane transport in C. elegans sensory cilia." Curr Biol. 2012 Mar 20; 22(6): 451–460.

Wasserman, S.M., Beverly, M. Bell, H. and Sengupta, P. (2011) "Regulation of response properties and operating range of the AFD thermosensory neurons by cGMP signaling." Curr. Biol. 21: 353-362.

Beverly, M., Anbil. S. and Sengupta, P. (2011) "Degeneracy and signaling within a sensory circuit contributes to robustness in thermosensory behaviors in C. elegans." J Neurosci. 10:11718-11727.

van der Linden, A.M., Beverly, M., Kadener, S., Rodriguez, J., Wasserman, S., Rosbash, M. and Sengupta, P. (2010) "Genome-wide analyses of light and temperature-entrained circadian transcripts in C. elegans." PLoS Biol 8(10): e1000503.

* - co-corresponding authors

View Complete Publication List on PubMed: Piali Sengupta

Last update: April 3, 2017.

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